The pandemic forced the vast majority of office workers – really anyone not working in the service industry, construction, manufacturing, and a handful of other professions – into working from home.
For many workers that may have been the only good part of the covid quarantine and shutdown. While their lives were limited to their homes with brief, scary trips outside, at least they did not have to commute to their offices.
That ignited an age-old debate about the concept of working from home. Many workers argued that they actually worked harder without having to go into an office, while a handful of CEOs took a position on the issue.
Netflix (NFLX) – Get Netflix Inc. Report Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings has been outspoken on the subject and has made very clear he sees working from home as a major negative.
The streaming major is, of course, a company where a lot of its workers do creative jobs. 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 “debating ideas” as something made much harder in a remote environment.
Musk Agrees With Hastings (Maybe for Different Reasons)
His opinion is similar to that of Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc. Report and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, maybe for different reasons. Musk took to Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter Inc. Reporta platform he is currently engaged in buying,
Musk on May 31 claimed on the microblogging platform that he had told Tesla’s executive staff to work at least 40 hours a week in the company’s offices or “they should pretend to work somewhere else,” The Street’s Martin Baccardax reported.
Scroll to Continue
The CEO told the company’s leadership that “working from home is no longer acceptable (sic),” that the work commitment must be made in a “main Tesla office, not a remote branch office unrelated to the job duties, for example being responsible for Fremont factory human relations, but having your office be in another state. ”
In Musk’s case, he wants office workers and management working in the office because that has been expected of the company’s factory workers.
The CEO cited his own time spent sleeping on the factory floor during one of the electric-vehicle company’s drives to hit its production goals, which The Street’s Luc Olinga covered on June 4.
“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” the billionaire said. “That’s why I lived in the factory so much – so that 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 opinion among many Tesla workers, but the idea that workers may be more productive may actually be supported by new research from Eagle Hill Consulting.
Work From Home Might Not Work
While a survey of 1,001 adults in the US aged 18 and older who are employed full-time or part time cannot definitively answer the question of whether remote workers are as productive as in-office workers, the numbers suggest that Musk and Hastings have a point.
Some 45% of remote workers – both fully remote and hybrid workers – surveyed said their teams’ performance had improved during the past two years. That’s better than the 34% of in-person workers surveyed on the same question – but neither result gives an overwhelming mandate to change the idea that most workers should go into an office on most days.
And while the data is inconclusive, they 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 per week – might be the solution.
Nearly all workers say their manager trusts them to get their work done, and this is fairly consistent for remote (96%), hybrid (90%), and in-person employees (96 percent). But since the pandemic began, most employees report feeling more pressure to perform well (66%). That sentiment is substantially higher for hybrid workers (74%), followed by in-person employees (67%) and remote workers (56%).
The opinions of the people working in the offices were probably also affected by the fact that they probably had to observe covid-related protocols while at work. That probably influenced how they felt about their teams’ performance.