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  • Chris Bratton - Tech Journalist

A leaked email from Elon Musk says remote workers should 'leave Tesla'

The world's richest man seems to have enough of working from home. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc., dived into the return-to-office debate on Twitter by expanding on an email he reportedly sent to the electric-car manufacturer's executive staff on Tuesday.



Musk’s directive came in a leaked email, which he later appeared to confirm was genuine. In response to a tweet questioning the plan, he suggested that employees who do not wish to return to work for at least 40 hours per week "pretend to work elsewhere."


Musk wrote, "The senior you are, the more visible you must be." I lived in the factory so those on the line could see me working alongside them. Tesla would have gone bankrupt without my help.


Musk had earlier ordered executive staff to work in "the main Tesla office, not a remote branch office" Suppose you oversaw HR at the Fremont factory, but your office was in another state. Musk has, in recent weeks, lauded employees of Tesla China for "burning the 3 am oil," while at the same time, he has stated that Americans are "trying to avoid going to work at all."


Thousands of Tesla employees in Shanghai have been effectively quarantined for the past few months, forced to work in shifts that last for 12 hours, six days a week. Up until very recently, many workers were required to sleep on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop security system designed to prevent Covid from entering and ensure that vehicles continued to be manufactured.


The 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. The workers who work the day shift-share beds in the makeshift dorms with those who work the night shift.


Musk has been railing against what he sees as a poor work ethic in the United States in recent months, despite the average American working longer hours than in most first-world countries. Tesla's CEO praised Chinese employees for "burning the 3 am oil."


Musk's harsh treatment of employees isn't new. Approximately two weeks before Elon Musk was successful in his attempt to buy Twitter Inc., a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and entrepreneur named Keith Rabois tweeted a story from Musk's earlier days as a startup founder. When Elon Musk was standing in line for coffee at Space Exploration Technologies Corporation one time, he noticed a group of interns milling around the lobby.


It was an affront to Musk's productivity. According to Rabois, who worked with Musk at PayPal Holdings Inc., Musk retaliated by threatening to fire all of the interns if it happened again and installing security cameras to monitor compliance. The fact that the email refers to factory workers is particularly interesting considering the current predicament at Tesla's factory in Shanghai.


Thousands of employees have been effectively trapped for months, working 12-hour shifts six days a week. Until recently, many people slept on the factory floor as part of a so-called closed-loop manufacturing system designed to keep Covid out and cars rolling off the assembly line.


Workers who were brought in to speed up the factory are now being shuttled between the facility and their sleeping quarters, either disused factories or an old military camp, with day- and night-shift workers sharing beds in makeshift dorms.


Thousands of employees have been effectively imprisoned for months, working 12-hour shifts six days a week. Until recently, many workers slept on the factory floor as part of a closed-loop system designed to keep Covid out and keep the production line moving.

Day- and night-shift workers share beds in makeshift dormitories as they are shuttled between the factory and their sleeping quarters, either abandoned factories or an old military camp.

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