Elon Musk has a clear work-from-home policy

Accounting

Regardless of how your company feels about working from home during the COVID era, the only way to make it work is to be crystal clear about the policy. That way, there’s no gray area or ambiguity. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and many other cutting-edge companies, sent a direct company-wide email to Tesla workers recently. I’ll share an excerpt of it below:

Subject line: “To be super clear”

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Moreover, 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.

The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence. That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.

There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.

Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in.

Thanks,

Elon”

As an accounting firm, you can’t just say you allow your team to work from home; you need to spell out exactly where and how you expect each of your employees to work. Telework is conducive to some roles, but an office setting is much more practical for other roles. The vast majority of jobs, however, fall into that murky gray area of high-value knowledge work that requires client interaction and lots of independent thinking. That’s where problems can arise if you’re not explicit about your firm’s policy.

Elon Musk was crystal clear about Tesla’s work-from-home policy.

Let’s break down each paragraph of Musk’s email above and look closer at the objectives: 

“1. Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week. Moreover, 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.”

Provide clarity. It’s clear what work-from-home means at Tesla, what the office means, how many hours you’re required to be there, and what happens if you don’t comply. 

“2. The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence. That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

Explain the why. Whatever your policy is, you owe it to your staff to explain why it is that way. Even better, Musk makes it clear he will lead by example. That’s transferable to leaders of accounting firms. 

3. There are of course companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time they shipped a great new product? It’s been a while.”

There are plenty of alternatives if you don’t like the way it’s going here. Feel free to explore, but here’s what you’ll find.  

“4. Tesla has and will create and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on Earth. This will not happen by phoning it in.”

Reiterate the company’s mission statement – the why. This is what we do. This is our core mission, and it doesn’t align with working from home. 

Each of the four paragraphs above explains why Tesla is making its decision about where and how its employees work. As I mentioned in my recent article, Work is something you do, not a place you gothe issue is not about working in the office vs. working from home. It’s about developing the right metrics to measure, motivate and promote your remote team. You need to address the core issue — your management style.

Tesla has factories. It sells goods that need to be built and made in a factory. You need to be on the factory floor with your co-workers to be a contributor there. In contrast, accounting firms essentially sell services and advice. Some roles and tasks can be done independently and don’t require time in a traditional office. Other roles require collaboration, which is best done together with other team members. Still, other roles are client-facing — you need to be with clients, not hunkered down in an office cubicle or home office nook. 

Whether you are entirely in the office, hybrid or fully remote, you need to be crystal clear about your policy. Otherwise, ambiguity and conflict set in. What does it mean to work from home? What does it mean to come into the office? You need to give the Why — why you have certain policies. Then you need to explain how management is going to support this. And then, you need to circle it back with your firm’s mission. 

Tesla basically explained to employees: You need to come in, and here’s why. If you don’t like it, there are plenty of alternatives.

Whether you have two employees, 200 or 2,000, you’re not going to make everybody happy. Be crystal clear about your policy, why you have that policy, and why your leadership is getting behind the decision. Finally, tie it all back to your firm’s mission statement. You may not be trying to reinvent the accounting profession or establish offices on other planets. Still, the more ambiguity you can eliminate from your policies, the happier and more productive your team will be.

What’s your take on staff working from home? I’d love to hear from you.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Op-ed: The fourth quarter begins, and here is what the 2022 bear market has taught us
Top Stock Picks for Week of October 3, 2022
These are the best ways to give to charity for the ‘vast majority of people.’ Here’s how to pick the most tax-efficient strategy
Arizona attorney general calls student loan forgiveness ‘unconstitutional’ in legal challenge to Biden’s plan
An open door for new tax legislation in December

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.