In an interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday, Mr Musk described the people working remotely as “laptop classes”, saying that the issue extended beyond productivity concerns.
He likened the concept of working from home to a quote often attributed to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France before the French Revolution.
“I think that the whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, ‘Let them eat cake’,” Mr Musk said. “It’s not just a productivity thing. I think it’s morally wrong.”
Mr Musk criticised the hypocrisy of expecting service industry workers to go to work while others had the privilege of working from home.
“Get off the goddamn moral high horse with the work-from-home bulls**t,” he said.
“People building the cars, servicing the cars, building houses, fixing houses, making the food, making all the things that people consume. It’s messed up to assume that, yes, they have to go to work, but you don’t” he said.
“It’s not just a productivity thing, I think it’s morally wrong.”
The tech mogul has been a fierce advocate of return-to-office policies. He imposed a strict policy in Tesla in June 2022, warning employees that they would lose their jobs if they did not comply.
The policy required employees to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office a week and anything less would be “phoning it in”.
“The laptop class is living in la-la land,” he said.
Mr Musk’s comments on work-from-home culture generated a divided response on the internet, with many lashing out at him.
“Being one of the world’s richest man, @elonmusk sounded tone deaf when he himself expects ppl to eat cake rather than share his wealth. @davidfaber just sounds like a boomer with his ‘productivity’ whining. Ppl are as productive and engaged working from home - if not more,” a Twitter user said.
Another user, Lora Kolodny, pointed to another CNBC report which said Tesla will carve out deals for “exceptional” employees amid the company’s hardline policy to return to work. The report, which cited sources, said Tesla was struggling to bring all its employees back to the office due to a lack of resources.
“Uhhh - REALLY!? Because as far as I know, Tesla and Twitter under Musk’s management will grant ‘exceptional’ employees right to work from home. Memba this?” Ms Kolodny said.
In the hour-long interview, Mr Musk also said he did not care for the consequences of his unfiltered and unabashed views on Twitter even if it meant incurring financial losses.
“I’ll say what I want to say, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” he said.
He added that Twitter will attempt to rehire some of its staff after dramatically firing employees following his controversial takeover of the microblogging platform. He acknowledged that the job cuts were too deep.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures… Unfortunately, if you do it fast, there are some babies who will be thrown out,” Mr Musk said, adding there is a possibility of rehiring people who were let go.
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