Elon Musk, the tech overlord, and the “master” of corporate shenanigans is at it again. Weeks after “forcing” Jack Dorsey of Twitter to “give in” to his takeover bid, Musk’s latest is his “ordering” of Tesla’s staff back to the office. In an email sent to his employees, Musk went as far as to say that those continuing to work from home, would be considered akin to quitting their jobs. While this seems pretty drastic, one should not be surprised, given Elon Musk’s personality and his position as the “numero uno” disruptor, where a single Tweet from him can “make or break” the fortunes of many firms, including the Blue Chip corporates.
Musk’s diktat to make Tesla’s employees “return” to onsite work is problematic on several counts, not least the fact that we are not “out of the woods” yet, what with more variants and the much-covered “monkeypox” threatening the health of Americans and for that matter, anyone world over. Indeed, the only thing that is “certain” about the present times is more “uncertainty” as the Coronavirus mutates into newer and more lethal variants, leaving employers and employees befuddled and wondering what’s next. This situation where one cannot predict whether “if tomorrow comes” might be a boon to Elon Musk, who revels in the glory of extreme uncertainty, but is harmful to the health and wellbeing of his staff.
Next, with the “alarming and catastrophic” denial among his fellow right-wingers about vaccines and masks, Elon Musk’s “forcing the issue” of ending remote work, is nothing but dangerous as it can engender those who are vaccinated from the anti-vaxxers and the anti markers. Moreover, WFH or Work From Home has been a boon to American households, saving commute times and money, as well as improving productivity, not to leave out the humungous contribution it has made to public health. Indeed, instead of Musk’s antics, we must be debating whether “hybrid” work models are the future of work wherein corporates such as Tesla need to experiment with a combination of onsite and remote work.
Third, while it might be beyond Elon Musk’s “vision” of the future to think about whether we need to ditch the 9 To 5 workday model, that was the product of the Industrial Revolution, one can expect better from Musk, being the “pioneer” and the “harbinger” of the Digital Age. More so, when the pandemic has ushered in the digital age and the “sunset” of the “smokestack” era should make business leaders such as Musk, be at the forefront of innovative and creative approaches at the “dawn” of the digital age. Indeed, Elon Musk would be better off designing the new work models, much like he thinks up the Next Big Thing, rather than indulging in “petty” oneupmanship with his employees.
Perhaps the most important reason why Elon Musk can spend his time on more worthwhile issues is the “epidemic” of mental health issues plaguing the American workforce, especially the Millennial/Gen Zer age cohorts. At a time when we must debate whether the “overwhelm” of our times is causing “stress and burnout”, we should not be playing corporate games. In addition, we must embrace the “future and present” shocks that these times, at the “cusp” of a new era and engage others in welcoming tomorrow. Indeed, even the Davos 2022 meet thought it fit to deliberate on how the post-pandemic workforce would need drastic adjustments to the New Normal.
Last, any business leader worth their suit, plans for BCP or Business Continuity Planning, where they “model” the risks and draw up contingency plans for so-called “Black Swans”. I do sincerely hope (at least for the sake of Elon Musk’s employees) that he has made a similar backup and back to work plans in case disasters strike. If this were the case, Musk would have surely pencilled in alternative work models for the next pandemic or disruption. I speak from experience as I was part of BCPs during 9/11 and so, can only “shudder” as to what Elon Musk’s plans for the future of work are, and his latest “play” can put many, including his much valued and valuable firms at risk. Here’s hoping Musk changes his mind, much like his see-saw battle with Twitter.