Elon Musk to Workers: Spend 40 Hours in the Office, or Else

This is the headline of an interesting article regarding the recent edict from Elon Musk to his employees at SpaceX and Tesla.

Before we get into ‘Elon bashing’, it is clear that Musk is a visionary in many ways. He has a strong work ethic, he stands beside his team, he has a vision for the future and he communicates this clearly. He is unrelenting and never gives in.

Elon Musk has been ahead of the curve throughout his career, making statements and presenting ideas that many have disagreed with at the time but which turn out to be on the money! Is this another one?

What makes sense about being in the office for 40 hours

  1. Great leaders are seen. They act as role models, and they are approachable.
  2. When people are in the office incidental learning occurs, including through spontaneous discussion, brainstorming and trouble-shooting.
  3. Formal learning, developing and onboarding are all easier to execute face to face.
  4. Issues can be resolved in time and on the spot rather than during a meeting scheduled in the future.
  5. Culture is built when people come together. Building culture and connection takes time and commitment.
  6. Employees build loyalty and engagement with their organisations due to many things, including the job they do, their manager and their colleagues. Building rapport and connection with people remotely rarely works. Who has had a long-distance relationship that has truly thrived over time?
  7. Research indicates that anywhere from 20% to 30% of romances begin in the workplace. Additionally, lifelong friendships and networks are built at work. Without the ability to build connection over time might we even end up with more single people moving forward? Work colleagues also support mental health and well-being, while isolation and aloneness exacerbate mental unhealthiness.
  8. It is definitely easier to identify and manage individuals who are not performing or productive at work.
  9. Work–life balance and boundaries are easier to set when work is contained to the offside. Covid and the WFH phenomena have challenged boundaries for many. When you are working, eating and even sleeping in the same space it is often difficult to know where the line is.
  10. If you have teammates whom you enjoy being with, being at work can be a lot of fun!

On the other hand, the global pandemic has proven to us that working from home can work.

Hybrid and flexible working arrangements allow:

  • greater productivity due to reduced travel time
  • an increase in discretionary time (used or not) to be spent on non-work activities (something Elon doesn’t like)
  • happier, more engaged and more productive employees, who are able to live where they choose, working around their life obligations
  • flexibility in location, which provides organisations with greater access to talent.

Is Elon just wrong this time? Rather than being a visionary and looking to the future, is he stuck in the past and focused on the way leadership, inspiration and management used to be rather than what is required now?

If you would like to find out more about how leadership is changing and what great leaders are doing to attract, inspire and develop their teams, contact us here.