Even though the commute can more likely resemble the Toyota save mart 350 rather than a leisurely Sunday drive, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk are not asking – but commanding – that tech workers return to the office.
Musk has said that anybody not looking to put in a 40-hour work week should start to look for employment elsewhere. After all, factory employees haven’t had the luxury to work from home as those on the business and tech side of things, so Musk thinks it’s only appropriate that everybody get back on campus.
As one could imagine, this order is not going to be received well by all employees. Some may consider the ability to work from home a perk/benefit right now, and having to return to the office is akin to stripping their health care.
Will They Come Back?
The question remains to be seen whether Tesla and SpaceX employees actually do return to the office. Tesla employs somewhere around 110,000 people, so it’s a good assumption that a decent chunk is currently enjoying WFH benefits.
There’s no doubt that working from home has its advantages, mostly saving on the commute time. Many people have probably gotten used to seeing their families all the time, and a one-hour commute on top of a 10-hour work day is really going to cut into that.
Tesla (nor SpaceX) employees also do not get an electric car automatically upon employment, and with the way gas prices are climbing in Austin, Texas, and around the United States, it’s not only going to be inconvenient to come to work – it’s going to be costly.
There are also still plenty of employees who have concerns about the COVID pandemic and exposure to other people. It’s probably better mentally for these people to get out and socialize a bit, but some are so used to being reclusive that they may be too far gone.
There are also daycare concerns, taking care of pets, etc., that have become customary conveniences. The good news for these workers is that free will is still a thing, and other tech companies are promoting WFH capabilities as a way to draw in these talented yet disgruntled workers.
Why Does Musk Want Workers Back In Person?
While WFH has been very convenient for employees, it’s likely been a nightmare for department heads. There are certain business dealings that are just easier to conduct face-to-face, not having to deal with Internet lag, echo, mowers outside, kids barging in the room, etc.
Also, sure most of us don’t exactly feel bad for a person with a net worth of $218 billion, but the work from home for the past couple of years has been costing the tech industry money. Are people really more productive from home, where there are countless distractions?
Is everybody really actually working 40+ hours a week telecommuting, or does a shift include a morning dip in the pool and an afternoon margarita on the desk?
One thing Musk likely wants to do in order to return to the office is bring a little more balance to his company. Factory workers have shown up in person all through the pandemic; why is it fair to them that their coworkers get to work in bathrobes?
Will Other Companies Follow Suit?
To be clear, Musk is just stating that employees should be spending 40 hours per week in the office. That may include four – 10 hour days or three 12’s and a half – days. There’s still some flexibility there.
It will be interesting to see how this proclamation goes over, and rest assured, other tech companies are watching. Most would secretly prefer their workers are back in-person while others are scooping up workers who have to WFH as a deal-breaker – knowing they’ll likely never get them back in the office in the future.