Calling out Elon Musk: Remote work works

October 3, 2022
Written by

The world’s richest man is fed up. So much so, that he issued a stern message to his 100,000 employees at Tesla.

As reported by media conglomerate Bloomberg, Elon Musk’s ultimatum was clear: “Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week…and the office must be where your actual colleagues are located, not some remote pseudo office. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.”

Musk’s tough love approach has added fuel to a fire that is spreading quickly.

The understanding and appreciation afforded to remote workers in the wake of the pandemic are fading.

But why are business leaders so convinced traditional office models are the answer to increased profit and productivity?

Especially when all evidence points to the contrary.

It is difficult to believe that Tesla’s success (all $800 billion of it) hinges on a strict return-to-office (RTO) policy, particularly given the amount of research that indicates remote employees are just as productive as those who work in an office.

Surely, Musk himself understands this. In 2018, his corporate jet flew more than 240,000 kilometres. As the image from ElonJet Twitter bot suggests, the Tesla founder must, at times, work remotely. It is impossible to travel this much, and be the wealthiest person on the planet, without undertaking some form of remote work, whether that be from an airport or hotel.

Flight tracker for Elon Musk's travels.
Photo from ElonJet

The ignorance is palpable, and experts predict that Musk is at risk of losing dozens of hardworking and innovative minds who simply want the option to work from the comfort of their own homes.

Elon Musk may be the richest man in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s always right, particularly when his direction centres on work principles and guidelines of the past.

Current trends show that return-to-office policies are antiquated and irrelevant

Recent trends and future modelling indicate RTO policies are becoming irrelevant as more business leaders identify the benefits of remote and hybrid work environments.

Figures from the Valuates Report show that the global remote employment market is worth a whopping US$176 billion.

According to data projections, as reported in Forbes, 25 percent of professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022. This figure will continue to increase as companies implement employment models that work for their needs. Ninety percent of the 2050 full-time remote workers surveyed said they were as productive at home compared to when they were at the office. Eighty-four percent reported that working remotely after the pandemic made them happier.

Global company Spotify is one organisation that has removed itself from the one-desk-fits-all mentality to create the Work From Anywhere Program. Spotify reports that staff are happier, more productive, and collaborate and communicate efficiently when given the freedom of choice.

Happy employees produce better results and workers deserve to feel valued, connected and cared for regardless of their office location. 

The Asana Australia and New Zealand Anatomy of Work Index 2021 showed that eight in 10 employees in Australia and New Zealand experienced burnout at least once in that year.

Implementing a remote work model can allow business owners to accommodate their workforce and ensure that they acquire (and retain) top talent, ensuring success in the future.

One concept that is experiencing unprecedented growth is the Employer of Record (EOR) model, which provides globally focussed businesses access to openly supported remote work opportunities. This is the next generation of employment, matching suitable remote employees with relevant industries. Legal compliance, HR administration and hiring are conducted by the third party, ensuring employers don’t have to manage multiple individual contractors across the globe.

Adaptable companies with a global mindset openly support remote work in all its variations.

Remote work allows startups and small businesses to compete globally

It’s estimated that by 2030, 50 to 80 million of the 255 million desk jobs around the world will, for the majority of the time, be performed remotely.

Removing geographical constraints in the hiring process will not only ensure you find suitable talent and can compete on a global level, but it can also boost inclusivity, diversity and cultural understanding within the business – all elements of future success.

The only ingredients a business – no matter its size or value – needs to create a sustainable remote workforce is skill, stable internet and a credible Employer of Record (EOR) to support business growth without the need to set up a local entity.

Remote work is the future

According to an annual study by the ADP Research Institute, 64 percent of 32,000 global participants reported that they would consider finding new employment if they were required to return to the office full-time.

The question must be asked - are you willing to lose a great employee simply because you feel the need to fill an office space?

Remote work isn’t just a shift in work models, it’s also a shift in mentality. A business should be about people, not the four walls of a building.

Progressive companies are now striking employment deals that focus on boosting performance through flexibility, creating a shared sense of purpose and developing deep connections, regardless of location. According to the Gartner 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, these deeper connections result in improved mental health and wellbeing – 23 percent of employees report better mental health, and 17 percent report improved physical health.

The global pandemic has opened our eyes to the possibility of living in new ways that improve productivity and happiness.

Workplaces have evolved and business owners, startup founders and employees need to work together to ensure global growth, innovation and development.

Hiring work-from-home staff gives your business the opportunity to scale, plus it removes that geographical boundary thus widening the workforce pool. 

The world is your playground, and the workplace no longer has to be an office.

Remote work is here to stay, and it’s impacting the workplace, and by extension the global workforce, for the better (despite what Musk says).

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