Elon Musk’s disdain for remote work doesn’t fully extend to Twitter. As The New York Times and The Verge note, Musk told Twitter staff in an inaugural all-hands meeting that employees at the social network who produce “excellent” work at home should be permitted to keep their positions. While the aspiring new owner stressed that he would much rather have people working in the office, he thought it “wouldn’t make sense” to fire someone who was a net positive for the company. He added he would verify with managers that those remote employees were making useful contributions.
Musk gave Tesla and SpaceX employees an ultimatum in late May, warning that they had to work at least 40 hours a week their main offices unless they had “particularly exceptional” reasons to stay remote. The executive felt it was particularly important for more senior-level members who needed an in-person “presence.” This stands in sharp contrast to Twitter’s existing stance allowing many employees to stay remote indefinitely, not to mention policies at Apple, Google and other tech heavyweights that allow staff to spend some or all of their workday at home.
The statements also come as Musk is facing a mounting backlash from his rank-and-file. The Verge says it has seen an open letter from SpaceX workers criticizing their CEO, accusing Musk of becoming a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” through his public actions. They also said the spaceflight firm wasn’t living up to either its “No Asshole” mantra or a zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct. The letter writers wanted SpaceX to condemn Musk’s behavior, hold all leaders accountable for their actions, and clarify its policies while enforcing them more consistently.
There was no mention of the exact issues that prompted the letter. Musk has drawn increasing criticism, however. A SpaceX flight attendant reportedly accused Musk of sexual misconduct, prompting a $250,000 settlement. That’s on top of ongoing claims Musk’s companies allow horrible behavior, including lawsuits from multiple women alleging Tesla fostered sexual harassment in the office. Musk has further been accused of posting transphobia on Twitter (such as blasting the pregnant man emoji) and supporting trucker protests in Canada that were laced with harassment and racist incidents. The entrepreneur isn’t on great terms with many people at the moment, and his dislike of remote work underscores this.