During Tesla’s third quarter financial results call on Wednesday evening, Musk spent a large proportion of the call ranting about the the remote workforce.
On the call with the tech titan, financial analysts and investors discussed the electric car manufacturer's earnings and spoke in detail about interest rate rises, financial pressures on regular working people, and how economic uncertainty might be impacting the company’s financials.
Musk was very much on-brand during the earnings call, offering up some controversial and colorful contributions to the discussion. He described Tesla's cost reduction efforts as “digging a tunnel with a spoon,” and called people pushing work-from-home policies privileged and detached from reality.
Musk Rants Against Remote Work
Musk described those who are pro-remote work as giving off “Marie Antoinette vibes”. Marie Antoinette was the last queen of France before the French Revolution and was thought to have said the phrase “Let them eat cake” in response to the people of France who could not even afford to eat bread, showing her ignorance for the suffering of the general population.
He went on to say “What about all the people that have to come to the factory and build the cars, and all the people who have to go to the restaurant and make your food and deliver your food? It’s like, what are you talking about? I mean, how detached from reality does the work-from-home crowd have to be while they take advantage of those who cannot work from home.”
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Musk has been outspoken on the issue for a while. In an interview with CNBC in May this year, Musk said that he thinks working from home is “morally wrong” when service workers have to show up. He labelled the work from home crowd as the Silicon Valley “laptop classes” calling the movement “bullshit” but insisting “it’s not just a productivity thing.”
A Distraction from Struggling Financials
Musk’s rant about remote workers came as an interruption to the prior discussion about Tesla’s economic position and the affordability of Tesla cars.
Tesla reported revenues of $23.35 billion for the third quarter, missing Wall Street expectations of $24.06 billion.
Musk painted a bleak picture, giving mention to the crumbling real estate market, the “punishing” credit card interest rates, and global conflicts.
“I apologize if I’m more paranoid than I should be, because that might also be the case, because I have PTSD from 2009, big time. And 2017 through 2019, were no picnic either. So, you know, the auto industry is also somewhat cyclic. People hesitate to buy a new car if there’s uncertainty in the economy.” – Elon Musk
“Sleeping on the Factory Floor”
Musk went further on the call, highlighting the importance (to him) of a 24/7 work ethic.
He said on the call, “why did I sleep in the factory so many times? Because it mattered. What about all the people that have to come to the factory and build the cars? What about all of the people that have to go to the restaurant and make your food, and deliver your food?”
It has been well documented that the workaholic tech billionaire has enforced his ways of working on his workers with reports of office attendance tracking, offices being transformed into places for staff to sleep instead of going home, and eyebrow-raising policies on issues such as parental leave.