• Elon Musk and the mayor of New York City are trying to end remote and hybrid work by ordering employees to return to the office. 
  • Organizations that fail to provide adequate support for all work environments risk damaging employee morale and retention, according to Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium.  
  • It’s important to make sure that employees understand why in-office work policies exist. 

“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,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an email on May 31.  

Essentially, Musk sent an email to Tesla employees (and another to SpaceX) declaring that remote work would not be tolerated there.  

He went on to add, “there are of course companies that don’t require [working from the office], but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.” 

So, why would the richest man on Earth say this? 

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Perhaps he wants to attract talent who want the upside of working for a successful company more than the flexibility of remote work. Or, perhaps he had to lay off 10% of Tesla staff and needed a way to offload some workers without alarming shareholders.  

In a message sent to executives on June 2, Musk laid out his concerns and told them to “pause all hiring worldwide.” He said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and needed to cut about 10% of salaried staff at the electric carmaker.  

Now he has publicly said that remote work has never really worked, and he will put an end to it at his company.  

Can the future of work be impacted by a few? 

Firstly, the future is always impacted by the few. Musk is no different from Ford or Edison… or Bill Gates for that matter. 

There has always been a split on remote vs. in-office work, and now that the pandemic era is passing, there will be an even greater split in the strategic positioning of “remote,” such as what it means, how it’s used, and who it’s for.  

The most important thing about remote working today is that it’s part of a global process (some might say movement) for certain categories of work that did not exist for the masses until the pandemic hit. It’s not for everyone, or every company or every day, but it will stay and grow to its natural place in the work sphere.  

In a Q&A with Liz Cannata, CareerBuilder Vice President of Human Resources, she explained remote work’s significance for the workforce.  

Allwork.Space: What do job seekers desire out of a work schedule?

Liz Cannata: Our recent consumer survey shows that 84% of employed adults wish their jobs would offer a 4-day work week and 67% would like to work remotely at least 3 days per week. The data also shows that 69% of employees feel positively about remote work and many say it makes them feel happier, more productive and find that it’s a necessity in today’s workplace. 

Allwork.Space: What are the most competitive businesses and employers offering? 

We have seen companies consider the 4-day approach and the hybrid model to provide balance and flexibility to employees. We can expect these types of perks to continue following recent news that the U.K. is now testing out the 4-day work week and as more employers place a priority on work life balance. Employees are looking for flexibility and balance, and businesses that offer that will be most competitive. 

There may be a mismatch between what employers and employees desire for the future of work 

Citigroup, BNY Mellon, Google, Apple and Twitter are among the organizations embracing a flexible and hybrid workforce. At the same time, people like Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, and Musk are trying to end remote and hybrid work by ordering employees to return to the office. 

“A mismatch between employees’ actual and desired work environments threatens their wellbeing,” explains Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium. “Organizations which fail to provide adequate support for all work environments risk damaging employee morale and retention.” 

Those assigned to their preferred work situation have a more positive employee experience. They are more likely to feel connected to their company’s mission and vision (80%) vs. those not working in their preferred environment (68%) and to feel positive emotions at work (77% vs. 64%), according to data 

Organizations who offer employees the ability to work in their preferred work location, rather than demanding in-person attendance, will be more successful in retaining and attracting talent, says Bruce. 

Bruce advises employers to: 

  • Form new policies and practices shaped to fit current realities and a transformed organization 
  • Engage in deep listening with all employee segments to understand preferences for their optimal work environment 
  • Ensure equitable access to career development opportunities for on-site, remote, and hybrid workers 

Whatever a firm’s current in-office policies may be, it’s important to make sure that employees understand why those policies exist: Why is it valuable for a staffer or team to be in the office? What does the organization seek to achieve by bringing people in consistently? Why is a mostly remote schedule unsustainable? As Elise Freedman, leader of the Workforce Transformation practice at Korn Ferry noted, without that explanation, policies can seem arbitrary. 

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