Lovewell’s logic: Should Elon Musk retain home working at Twitter?

Elon Musk has certainly made an impression – and headlines – during his first few weeks as owner of Twitter. After letting approximately half of the workforce go, this week he announced that employees must return to the office to work if they are able to do so. Those who fail to do so will be viewed as tendering their resignation.

In a question-and-answer session, Musk said: “Let me be crystal clear. If people do not return to the office when they are able to return to the office, they cannot remain at the business. Basically, if you can show up in an office and you do not show up at the office, resignation accepted. End of story.”

While Musk is perfectly within his legal rights to stipulate where employees must work if they are not contracted as home workers, I do wonder whether he has considered the impact such a demand will have on employee engagement, motivation and loyalty.

A leader’s first 100 days are widely regarded as the time to prove themselves and make an impression, yet the success of any organisation is heavily reliant on its people. If staff are demotivated and disengaged, this will impact productivity, retention and, ultimately, business performance.

According to The state of hybrid work 2022, published by Owl Labs, requiring employees to work in the office full time, or not offering flexibility around work location, would cause 34% of respondents respectively to decline a job offer.

Anecdotally, Twitter has historically been viewed by many as an aspirational business to work for. Under Musk’s leadership, however, I wonder how long that will continue.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
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