Elon Musk tells Tesla workers to return to the office or lose their jobs

An aerial view of Tesla's Fremont, Calif., factory
Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif. Chief Executive Elon Musk says employees must work from their assigned offices 40 hours a week or lose their jobs.
(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
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The world’s richest man has had it with this whole working-from-home business.

Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk sent an email late Tuesday to “Everybody” at his electric-car company, elaborating on an earlier missive to executive staff about the need to be in the office. Employees at numerous companies, used to working from home or hybrid policies, have revolted against return-to-office policies and long commutes.

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” Musk wrote in an email titled “To be super clear.” “Moreover, the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

He sent a follow-up to everyone confirming the companywide policy.

Bloomberg News confirmed that current Tesla employees received the email Wednesday morning.


“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk wrote. “That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

In their own words, former Tesla employees describe what they call a racist work environment that led California to file a civil rights lawsuit against the company.

March 25, 2022

Musk sent a similar email to employees of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, his Hawthorne-based rocket company, the New York Times reported.

Earlier, Musk sent an email to executive staff requiring that they be in “a main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties, for example being responsible for Fremont factory human relations, but having your office be in another state.”

In recent weeks, Musk has praised Tesla China employees in Shanghai for “burning the 3 am oil” while saying that Americans are “trying to avoid going to work at all.”

Thousands of Tesla staff there have been effectively locked in for months, working 12-hour shifts, six days a week. Until recently, many were sleeping on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop system meant to keep the coronavirus out and cars rolling off the production line.

Workers brought in to bring the factory back up to speed are being shuttled between the facility and sleeping quarters — either unused factories or an old military camp — with day- and night-shift workers sharing beds in makeshift dorms.


When a fan on Twitter asked Musk to address people who think going in to work is an antiquated concept, he replied, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

It’s not the first time Musk’s tough-love treatment of employees has come up.

About two weeks before Musk reached a $44-billion deal to acquire Twitter Inc., Keith Rabois, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur, tweeted an anecdote that speaks to his friend’s management style. At SpaceX, Musk once noticed a group of interns milling around while waiting in a line for coffee.

Musk threatened to fire them all if it happened again and had security cameras installed to monitor compliance, according to Rabois, who knows Tesla’s founder from their days at PayPal Holdings Inc.

Employees at Twitter — one of the most prominent companies to allow permanent remote work — are “in for a rude awakening,” Rabois wrote in April.

Bloomberg writer Vlad Savov contributed to this report.