Blog > Elon Musk and the question of flexible work arrangements
Elon Musk and the question of
flexible work
arrangements

Since Elon Musk’s notorious email, the question in the tech community has been, does it make sense to force workers to return to the office? After all, tech companies depend heavily on software programmers and developers who work behind a computer all day. 

SOCO resolved this question some time ago, providing flexible work arrangements and encouraging a “work from anywhere” mindset. SOCO strives to focus on people first and technology second. This has resulted in a work environment that enables team members to optimise their contribution, whilst supporting their own personal choices about how to work. The flexible arrangements have attracted a high level of women for a tech company. 

If you would like to work for an organisation who values people first, visit SOCO Careers for our current roles.

“We found our ‘work from anywhere’ arrangements to particularly resonate with parents with school children,” Simon Forth, SOCO’s Chief Operating Officer said.  

Many others in the tech sector agree with SOCO’s approach. 

Australian tech billionaire, Scott Farquhar, responded to Musk’s email via Twitter saying it, “Feels like something out of the 1950s”.  

In 2021, Zuckerberg announced a new policy at Facebook that allowed employees to continue working from home. He stated, “We’ve learned over the past year that good work can get done anywhere”. 

Ironically, not long before Musk expressed interest in buying Twitter, the CEO announced that employees could work from home “forever” if they wish. “Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever,” Parag Agrawal wrote to their approximately 7,500 employees. 

However, Musk’s outdated views aren’t just bad for staff, it’s also bad for organisations and the wider economy.  

Musk’s view disregards the 60% of workers with jobs that can be done remotely who have expressed a desire to work from home all or most of the time, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey. Carers are especially likely to want to work from home due to lack of support (e.g. childcare) or other demands at home.  

Studies show that people are more productive working from home with productivity boosts ranging from 3% to 5%. Stanford University professor and remote work expert Nicholas Bloom found that 40% of American work hours are currently remote and more people want to work remotely. As an example, in March 2022, 20% of job listings were remote on LinkedIn, but had over 50% of the applications. 

Natacha Postel-Vinay, an economic and financial historian at the London School of Economics, agrees. “Most of the evidence shows that productivity has increased while people stayed at home. People spent less time commuting so could use some of that time to work. They also got to spend more time with their family and sleeping, which meant they were happier and ended up more productive,” she added. 

Albrecht Ritschl, a professor of economic history, also said cutting out commuting was a bonus to worker productivity and added that working from home led to fewer hours spent in “pointless meetings – time spent at the office is not the same thing as working hard.”  

Zapier, a work automation company, in a recent survey found that 32% of respondents reported that they’ve already quit a job because they couldn’t work remotely and 61% say they would quit for a fully remote role. 

Looking at the weight of evidence, Musk’s new policy is likely to push talent and invention out of his company rather than attract it. His management style will not wring more and superior work from his staff. By disregarding the circumstances of people’s lives and their desire for more balance, he may be reducing the pool of talent he will be able to draw from. 

We’re always looking for incredible people who can make big ideas real to join our ‘Work from Anywhere” team! Visit SOCO Careers for our current roles. 

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