Elon Musk wants you back at your desk!

Is the return to the office imminent? Elon Musk thinks so. The world’s richest person says remote work is no longer acceptable 👀 . Musk told the nearly 100 000 employees at his electric car and clean energy company, Tesla, to come back to work or resign, in leaked emails that he seemed to confirm on Twitter. 

Musk famously slept on the Tesla factory floor when the company was going through a tough time, saying this prevented the company from going bankrupt. 

In contrast Twitter, the company Musk is set to buy, is allowing staff to work remotely “forever” if they like. (Musk thinks that’s part of the reason some companies haven’t produced any great products of late!)

Across the pond, British cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is also leading a campaign to get butts back in chairs, albeit in classically British passive-aggressive fashion. He left notes complete with a government crest on people’s desks: “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon.” 

The signs are mounting that the great work-from-home experiment is unwinding, The Economist reports. Chat app Slack projects slowing sales growth this quarter, down from 50% at the height of the pandemic. In February Zoom reported that growth had slowed globally. 

C-suite executives seem most eager for staff to return, but workers aren’t convinced. Survey after survey show employees don’t want to go back to staring wistfully out the window five days a week, after getting a taste of remote working during the pandemic. LinkedIn saw 50% of new applications on its site in February go towards remote working positions – despite those making up less than 20% of jobs posted. 

But remote working is not without its pitfalls. Studies show longer hours with less productivity (thanks in part to all those virtual meetings) plus there are fewer coaching and career opportunities. 

Either way, employee expectations have shifted fundamentally thanks to the pandemic. 

Given the great resignation trend – to which South Africa is no stranger – among skilled positions, employers need to think carefully about the future of work.

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