Remote work has upended corporate America, relieving many workers of crushing commutes and office distractions while infuriating just as many bosses. But the nation’s wealthiest individual, Tesla Inc.
Chief Executive Elon Musk, cast the issue in terms of privilege and morality on Tuesday, saying it was time for the office-averse to “get off the goddamn moral high horse with their work-from-home bullshit.”
“The laptop class is living in la-la land,” Musk said in a wide-ranging interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday from a Tesla factory in Austin, Texas. “Look at the cars, are people working from home here? Of course not.”
“So the people who are building cars, servicing the cars, building houses, fixing houses, making the food, making all the things that people consume — it’s messed up to assume that they have to go to work, but you don’t,” Musk continued. “It’s not just a productivity thing. I think it’s morally wrong.”
He added that the pro-remote-work crowd needed to “get off the goddamn moral high horse with their work-from-home bullshit. Because they’re asking everyone else to not work from home while they do.”
Musk has said that he wants Twitter and Tesla employees to work in the office. But during the interview, he added that a 40-hour-a-week job could, say, run from Monday through Thursday, as opposed to Monday through Friday. And he said people should take vacations.
Musk made the remarks as more managers try to get their employees to return to the office, after the pandemic made remote work and Zoom meetings staples of corporate life.
Some bosses have struggled with managing hybrid-work schedules and complained that remote work has harmed company culture, saying that it sacrifices the benefits of on-the-job learning and human connection. However, critics of that argument say that “company culture” is a mere romanticization of gray carpets and stale fluorescent lighting, and an effort to control employees and extract more work from them.
The take on remote work from Musk is likely to be the latest divisive one from the executive, who also runs SpaceX and Twitter. Musk last week said that Linda Yaccarino would become Twitter’s new chief executive in the weeks ahead.
That changeover will be made as Musk’s tweets continue to raise questions about how much he’s harming the platform. During the interview, CNBC’s Faber asked Musk about a post on Monday in which Musk compared billionaire financier George Soros to the X-Men villain Magneto — who in the Marvel universe is a holocaust survivor — and said Soros “hates humanity.” The remarks raised concerns that Musk was feeding anti-Semitic tropes.
Musk told Faber his remarks about Soros’ position on humanity, which came after Soros offloaded a position in Tesla, reflected his opinion, and he said he was “pro-Semite,” if anything. But when pressed on the potential damage of Musk’s tweets to Twitter’s ad revenue, shareholder sentiment or executives’ day-to-day responsibilities, Musk paused, then paraphrased a scene from the film “The Princess Bride.”
“Offer me money, offer me power. I don’t care,” he said.
He added: “I’ll say what I want to say, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.”