The pandemic has forced the vast majority of office workers — really everyone who doesn’t work in the service industry, construction, manufacturing, and a handful of other professions — to work from home.
For many workers, this may have been the only good part of quarantine and covid shutdown. While their lives were confined to their homes with brief and frightening trips outside, at least they didn’t have to go to their offices.
This sparked an age-old debate over the concept of working from home. Many workers have argued they work harder without having to go to an office, while a handful of CEOs have taken a stand on the issue.
netflix (NFLX) – Get the Netflix Inc. Co-CEO Reed Hastings was candid on the subject and made it clear he sees working from home as a major downside.
The streaming major is, of course, a company where many of its employees do creative work. Hastings might feel differently if he ran an accounting firm or a type of business where collaboration was less important.
In his comments on the subject, he cited “brainstorming” as something much more difficult in a remote environment.
Musk agrees with Hastings (perhaps for different reasons)
His opinion is similar to that of Tesla (TSLA) – Get the report from Tesla Inc. and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, possibly for different reasons. Musk took to Twitter (TWTR) – Get the Twitter Inc. report.a platform that he is currently in the process of buying,
On May 31, Musk claimed on the microblogging platform that he told Tesla executives to work at least 40 hours a week in company offices or “they’d have to pretend to work somewhere else,” Martin reported. Baccardax from TheStreet.
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The CEO told company management that “working from home is no longer acceptable (sic)”, that the work commitment must be made in a “Tesla main office, not a remote branch unrelated to the duties of the position, such as being the Human Relations Manager of the Fremont plant, but having your office in another state.
In Musk’s case, he wants office workers and management to work in the office because that’s what the company’s factory workers are expected to do.
The CEO cited the time he spent sleeping in the factory during one of the electric vehicle company’s trips to meet production targets, which TheStreet’s Luc Olinga covered on June 4.
“The older you are, the more your presence should be visible,” said the billionaire. “That’s why I lived so long at the factory – so those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I hadn’t done that, Tesla would have gone bankrupt long ago.”
That’s probably not a popular view among many Tesla workers, but the idea that workers can be more productive may actually be supported by new research from Eagle Hill Consulting.
Working from home might not work
While a survey of 1,001 adults in the United States ages 18 and older who work full or part time cannot definitively answer the question of whether remote workers are as productive as office workers, the numbers suggest Musk and Hastings have a point.
Some 45% of remote workers (whether fully remote or hybrid) surveyed said their teams’ performance had improved over the past two years. That’s better than the 34% of in-person workers polled on the same question — but none of the results give an overwhelming mandate to change the idea that most workers should be in an office most days.
And while the data is inconclusive, it does suggest that a hybrid approach — not what Musk wants, but closer to the Netflix model of four days in the office, one day at home a week — could be the answer.
Almost all workers say their manager trusts them to do their job, and this is fairly consistent across remote (96%), hybrid (90%) and in-person (96%) employees. But since the start of the pandemic, most employees report feeling more pressure to perform well (66%). This sentiment is significantly higher for hybrid workers (74%), followed by in-person employees (67%) and remote workers (56%).
The opinions of people working in offices were also likely affected by the fact that they likely had to observe covid-related protocols while at work. It probably influenced how they felt about their teams’ performance.