Automakers across the U.S. have been grappling with how best to deal with the issue of getting their salaried workers to return to the office — or whether they need to at all. 

Tesla HQ walkway
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is mandating workers return to the office full time.

Well, all of them except one: Tesla, where you’ll put in your 40 hours a week in the building, or you can “work” from home permanently.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk emailed employees telling employees they are expected to work “a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week,” in the email sent Tuesday night, according to Reuters. “If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

When asked on Twitter if he had any comment for people who believe working in an office is antiquated, Musk tweeted, “They should prefer to work somewhere else.”

Not the norm

Musk’s stance certainly separates him from the crowd — a position he’s pretty comfortable with. Other automakers in the U.S. are offering flexibility to their white collar employees and have reworked many of their office building to accommodate these new hybrid schedules.

Tesla work station
Musk expects 40 hours a week in the office from employees and more from senior executives.

Ford and General Motors seemingly have embraced this new paradigm, in part because employees are happier with their newfound flexibility, but also it helps them hedge against breakouts of the latest variant of COVID-19.

Toyota gave “eligible” workers the option to work from home permanently in July 2020. Toyota officials found that employees who have been working from home have been more productive than when they were in the office. The employees eligible to take advantage of the plan include clerical and engineering staffers as well as those caring for children or elderly parents.

Hourly workers don’t get to enjoy such a pliable schedule due to the nature of their work and they are also working in different setup since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. 

Show up or shove off

Musk’s mandate runs across the board and, in fact, might be more militant for those higher up on the company’s org chart.

“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.”

Musk pretend to work tweet

He took it a step further to suggest that the other automakers who are employing the flexible schedules are victims of their own complacency by willingly accepting less than complete dedication to the company — starting with being in the office.

“There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while,” Musk wrote, according to Reuters

“Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in.”


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