Elon Musk is done with work from home (WFH). The chief executive officer of Tesla has reportedly ordered employees to show up—for 40 hours a week at least—or ship out. This is not a bolt from the blue. Only a few weeks ago, Musk was on Twitter griping about how “covid-stay-at-home stuff” had tricked people into believing “they didn’t need to work hard”. His you-are-in-office-or-out-of-work ultimatum may gladden his fan base, many of whom seem to relish the idea of a powerful tech-bro toughening up a world gone soft. To be fair to Musk, as the chief of a major carmaker, he is entitled to shake up productivity at his workplace. The popularity contests he loses are his business.
Yet, Musk’s dissing of WFH is not just out of step with a changing world; it also goes against the evidence of the past two years, when workers logged in from just about anywhere to keep the show going. That often meant more work—not less—as sign-out times went for a toss. Musk wants to wield a stick and have workers fall in line. Other companies, meanwhile, have shown it is possible to dangle the carrot of flexible time and achieve corporate goals. May the best boss win.