Elon Musk accepts that the “exceptional” employees of Tesla remain in telework

Employees whose work is deemed satisfactory will finally be able to remain in telework, said Elon Musk. The billionaire thus qualifies the radical position he had shared internally a few weeks earlier, but remains in favor of a presence in the office.

I asked for a list, which the managers have to confirm. Whether [l’employé] is an excellent contributor, they can work from home.” Elon Musk spoke for the first time at length with the employees of Twitter, the social network he wants to buy, this June 16, 2022.

During this question-and-answer session, he was asked about the very strong position he had expressed in an internal email sent to Tesla employees a few weeks earlier. Entitled “teleworking is no longer acceptable”the message explicitly asked “Anyone who wants to work remotely must be in the office for a minimum (and I do mean a ‘minimum’) of 40 hours per week or leave Tesla.”

At the time, it left the way open to rare exceptions for ” particularly outstanding contributors “, for which Musk would validate” personally » working from home — despite the fact that Tesla has 110,000 employees. In another email, he stated that: the older you are, the more you need to be there “.

The tone of the email gave the impression that the billionaire was going to show great intransigence on the implementation of this forced return to the office – against the tide with the decisions of many tech companies. In the interview he gave to Twitter employees, he was a little more nuanced. ” The scales really have to tip in favor of face-to-face work “, he underlined, justifying that” when you are working from home, the esprit de corps is reduced, and it is important to be present in the office from time to time. What I said is that for those who are at a distance, they have to come to the office from time to time so that they can at least recognize their colleagues. »

Elon Musk // Source: Wikimedia/Numerama editing

Telecommuting is allowed, but not recommended

The reflection is far from being insane: many companies, although they have adopted teleworking, agree on the fact that a regular or occasional presence in the office makes it possible to make work more fluid and add important human relationships to the building a project. It was more the tone that Elon Musk had used in his internal emails that had surprised his employees a lot: there is a world between encouraging people to come back to the office more often by calmly explaining this decision and curtly threatening to fire anyone who does not wouldn’t come 40 hours a week.

Basically, if someone’s job performance is exceptional, then remote work can work. “, explained Musk facing Twitter, which has more than 1,500 full-time telecommuters. ” There is some impact on communication when working remotely. If you’re with people just a few offices away, it’s very easy to communicate in real time, but it’s much harder to do so if you’re in different physical locations. I would therefore like to emphasize that my bias is very favorable to face-to-face work.»

It would obviously be foolish to fire someone if they are great at what they do, but can only work remotely, even if they are doing a great job. … I’m definitely not one for making irrational decisions. I’m in favor of things that build the business and make it better “, he concluded.

It’s not impossible that the billionaire’s first salvo of emails was simply sent impulsively, as Tesla — and the stock market in general — is having a hard time. Two days after this internal communication was leaked to the press, in a new internal memo, Musk was also considering the possibility of dismissing up to 10% of Tesla’s payroll, because of a ” really bad feeling” on the economic future of this end of the year.

Nevertheless, an “exceptional” business leader should be able to communicate his vision with pedagogy, and not in haste by twirling threats. A bit like on a certain social network, where it is sometimes better to take a deep breath and turn your hands seven times in your pocket before tweeting…

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