Elon Musk’s return to the office is not well received in Germany

Dancing Elon Musk

Elon Musk at the Tesla Giga Factory in Berlin, Germany (Credits: Getty)

Elon Musk’s recent order that all Tesla employees must stop remote work or “we’ll assume you’ve quit” hasn’t gone down well in Germany.

The country’s largest union disagrees with the world’s richest man.

The Tesla boss threw himself into the future of work debate by telling employees at the electric carmaker they would have to return to the office for at least 40 hours a week or leave the company.

IG Metall in Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony, where Tesla’s plant is, said it will support any employee who defies Musk’s ultimatum.

Tesla employs around 4,000 people in Germany and plans to expand the workforce to 12,000.

“Anyone who does not agree to such unilateral demands and wants to oppose them has the power of the trade unions behind them according to the law in Germany,” said Birgit Dietze, district manager of IG Metall in Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony.

Workers at the Tesla plant in Grünheide, Germany, elected 19 people to the first works council in February, distinguishing the plant from other plants the automaker operates without union representation in the US and elsewhere, a move Musk has fiercely opposed.

Elon Musk (L), CEO of Tesla, and Armin Laschet, CDU Federal Chairman and Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, talk during a visit to the Tesla Gigafactory in Berlin. (Image credit: Action Press/REX/Shutterstock)

Some of the workers are affiliated with IG Metall, which represents workers in car companies and other industries.

In Germany there are currently no laws enshrining the right to work from home, but the Ministry of Labor is working on guidelines that would increase flexibility for workers.

Many large employers, including automakers, have already embraced hybrid work models as the coronavirus pandemic forced companies to send employees home to work.

“We have a fundamentally different view of creating an attractive working environment and stand for empowerment and personal responsibility in our teams in order to balance the relationship between mobile and personal work,” says Gunnar Kilian, Volkswagen Board Member for Human Resources.

Tesla Model 3 cars on the production line (Credits: Reuters)

Luxury automakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz shared this view when asked about Musk’s ultimatum.

“Hybrid working is the working model of the future … various forms are possible, from full presence to predominantly remote working,” said a Mercedes-Benz spokesman.

Musk, who helped transform the traditional auto sector into an all-electric future and made himself the richest man alive in the process, had blunt words for companies that didn’t need employees back in the office full-time.

“Of course there are companies that don’t require this, but when was the last time you shipped a great new product? It’s been a while,” Musk wrote in the email.

Musk’s email complete

Everyone at Tesla has to spend at least 40 hours a week in the office. In addition, the office must be located where your actual colleagues are located, and not in a distant pseudo-office. If you don’t show up, we’ll assume you’ve canceled.

The older you are, the more visible your presence needs to be. That’s why I lived in the factory so much – so the people on the line could see me working alongside them. If I hadn’t done that, Tesla would have gone bankrupt long ago.

Of course there are 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 continue to design and actually manufacture the most exciting and meaningful products of any company on earth. This is not done by calling.

Many Thanks,

MORE: Elon Musk orders Tesla employees back to office and says WFH is ‘no longer acceptable’

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/03/elon-musks-return-to-office-order-hasnt-gone-down-well-in-germany-16763185/ Elon Musk's return to the office is not well received in Germany

Justin Scacco

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