Key Words: ‘Pretend to work somewhere else.’ Elon Musk reportedly tells Tesla staff working remotely is no longer an option.

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“They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

That was Tesla’s
TSLA,
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chief executive officer Elon Musk, responding to an apparent leaked email making the rounds that was addressed to the electric-car maker’s executive staff and entitled: “Remote work is no longer acceptable.”

“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean ‘minimum’) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers,” said the email dated May 31 and signed “Elon.”

He said exceptional circumstances would be considered and reviewed directly by him, but also indicated higher ups could not report to the most convenient Tesla office.

“Moreover, the ‘office’ must be 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,” said the note. MarketWatch reached out to Tesla to verify the email, with no response as of publication.

While other companies have struggled to bring workers back in the more than two years since the start of the pandemic, Musk would appear to see little value in allowing that for his employees. That’s despite data showing productivity surged during lockdowns, and remote work may not be such a production killer as he thinks.

A research team from the Texas A&M University School of Public Health found just that in a study released last month. Another academic study led by Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom showed workers are more efficient if they are allowed to work from home at least some of the time.

And while it’s unclear if Tesla workers are ready to take a stand, in a tight U.S. job markets, big companies are still struggling to get all their workers back, with COVID-19 is still causing outbreaks across the U.S.

Read: Get ready for the Great Resistance. Companies and employees are locked in a battle of wills over returning to the office.

The entrepreneur and founder of Tesla came under fire in the early months of the pandemic when the company promised workers they could stay home if they felt unsafe due to COVID-19. The company later reversed course and said that employees who did not return to work would be fired.

Tesla saw hundreds of cases of COVID between May and December 2020 when it reopened against the recommendation of health officials.

Its most recent results released in April zoomed past expectations, with revenue pushing toward $19 billion despite factory shutdowns in China and ongoing supply-chain problems. Tesla is still working to get its factories in Shanghai up to full speed amid COVID outbreaks. Shares of the company have lost 28% so far this year.

Two years of COVID-19: How the pandemic changed the way we shop, work, invest and get medical care

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