Work Life Balance, Working From Home and Elon Musk

No matter how you feel about Elon Musk you have to admit he has had a massive impact on our culture.

Elon Musk cofounded later PayPal in 2002 making electronic payments a fact of life for most of us, he then sold the company for $175.8 million and used the proceeds from eBay’s acquisition to found SpaceX. He was a major early funder of Tesla, and became its chief executive officer in 2008. He recently purchased Twitter and upended the much loved work at home options that many of his employees (and former employees) preferred.

Elon doesn’t care much about being liked and he drew harsh criticism from employees who didn’t want to work in an office anymore. Now, he’s taking on San Francisco Mayor London Breed and challenging turning Twitter HQ offices into bedrooms with mattresses. She hates this idea, but she wanted more housing didn’t she? And, being so close to the Tenderloin you have to be careful what you wish for. At the end of the day maybe this is a new model for working.

Twitter employees have used personal anecdotes to show they are more productive away from the office, even though most tech executives who allow their employees to work remotely are laying off their workforce in large numbers. I think it’s safe to say some people are more productive in an office environment and others are not. I’ve been teaching a leadership class at UC Berkeley throughout the pandemic. Remote work is an often discussed topic and I can confidently say everyone views this differently. What I hear is some people are distracted by their children, wives, aging parents, roommates, and friends as they try to work from home. Others are energized by walking the kids to school and running midday errands, or in one case snow skiing on their lunch hour. Or, they are lonely and grow depressed and as a result unmotivated. There are some that are highly productive in the calm of being home without the distractions of co-workers, discrimination, and office politics. There is a spectrum here and as many scenarios as there are people.

“Musk didn’t buy Twitter to make employees happy. He bought Twitter to protect free speech and create a profitable company. If that means laying 50% of Twitter’s workforce, he will do it. Musk doesn’t hide his intention. He wants to create Twitter 2.0: “A new culture that would be “extremely hardcore” and involve “long hours at high intensity.”

All of this proves that we will see in the future highly diverse work cultures and you will get what you sign up for. Amazon is also extremely hardcore and intense. If that’s what you like you will thrive in these cultures and as I tell my coaching clients we are all responsible for finding the work and culture that we love and where we can thrive.

Love and blessings.

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