Remote Work or Back to Work! “The Lady Doth Protest Too Much” Elon Musk?


Musk’s Twitter ultimatum sends staff running for the exit!

After buying Twitter just weeks ago, Thursday, Elon issued a back-to-the-office edict for employees.

He demurred that employees can work from home as many hours as they want once they’ve logged 40 hours per week on-site.

Don’t ask what Elon is doing? Ask instead — What does Elon do?

Elon builds transportation systems–cars, tunnels, spaceships!

TBH, I’m as awed by Elon’s innovations as much as the next guy but anecdotes of his legend have limits keeping in mind that Midas' golden touch became a curse.

In Elon’s case, working from home means not commuting in Elon’s cars and tunnels that just might threaten his tollbooth. Connect the dots between the directive and the corporate interest that puts people back in the office and influences other CEOs to do the same. Employees are commuting on highways and tunnels and the business pipelines fill up to pay for Twitter.

The small gods and business heroes seldom succeed alone.

Like most notables, Elon stands on the shoulders of giants to whom he owes a nod. Take first principles thinking as an example. Elon’s use cases adopted to 21st-century contexts were adapted from Sir Isaac Newton’s 17th-century, Principia, regarding planetary motion and gravity.

Nod to David Bowie “Ground control to major Tom”.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

So a question worth asking is, does remote work, work?

Organizational dividends compound further when we include, higher engagement in projects, improved performance on KPIs, less groupthink, and more diversity that collectively add up to benefits accruing to the asset side of the corporate and stakeholder ledger from remote work variations.

Alternative organizational cases have experimented with cutting workers' hours from 37.5 to 30 without cutting pay. Take Iceland’s experiment published in “Going Public.” Staffers completed in 30 hours what they usually produced in 37.5 hours. Apple’s alternative to the WFO-WFH dilemma asks employees to work on-site 3 days per week and from home on alternate days.

Work experiments are being replicated across the spectrum from industries to companies and countries.

Importantly, engagement increases alongside job satisfaction and work-life balance. The future of work depends on increased W-L balance, affinity with organizational values, and work flexibility as advocated by the emerging Gen Z workforce and millennial managers.

What challenges exist between WFH and WFO?

I can’t read body language so how can I tell who is engaged and who is flaking?

We spend all day in meetings and have to do our job with additional hours. Studies show WFH employees work as many as 26 hours more per month than WFO.

M&Ms: Managers and Makers

I’ve been a manager. I’m committed to teaching managers to improve results and that’s exactly what managers and makers want — to do well and create value for stakeholders.

Makers — the teams that deliver the work and the results want the same.

So why is there so much tension between M&Ms?

Managers use meetings as a metric of performance. Simple. So, automatically, we assume that means that managers are measuring the team’s performance, but often meetings are proxies for a manager’s work. Meanwhile, meetings provide a platform for engagement that often looks and feels like micromanagement for the makers.

Meetings are often palliative and not about performance

They are mostly palliative – for the manager.

Managers rely on meetings to monitor projects, teams, and information.

With remote teams, as access to supervision decreases uncertainty increases for managers.

The greater the insecurity the greater the micromanagement and therefore the increase in meetings.

If you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Meetings don’t fix performance any more than training does.

This reminds me of a business case about a popular local diner famous for its signature Texas toast. Despite the owner's best efforts, they couldn’t serve more patrons and profits remained stagnant.

Typically, business consultants were asked to study the problem.

I bet dollars-to-donuts, you know the solution — training! Yes, if the kitchen staff had more training performance would increase and patrons and profits would flow.

And after training, betting dollars-to-flapjacks, you know the pressure on kitchen staff went up while the bottom line stubbornly remained the same.

The next assessment came from experienced restauranteurs who watched workflow in the kitchen.

The restaurant was famous for its thick, hot, buttery Texas toast but the kitchen was designed for a smooth flow from the fridge to the stove. The toaster was crammed behind the kitchen doors so toast was snatched and slipped onto the plate cold en route to the table.

Solution? Clear counter space for the toaster beside the stove where the diner’s marquee product — hot, buttery, Texas toast — got plated.

The patrons came for the toast. The diner’s profits and reputation went gold.

No training nor meetings are required.

Meetings should be the organization’s marquee and not served up like stale toast.

Deep work requires hyper-focus over longer blocks of time to enable problem-solving, programming, development, or making stuff that needs long-duration thinking and value creation. Meetings designed for deep thinking can produce value.

Photo by Dan Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash

Are meetings worth it?

The meeting is never just an hour. It's always that hour multiplied by the number of participants. Then, calculate the opportunity cost. What’s not getting done?

If meetings don’t produce more value than the cost of the meeting, send your deck by attachment, follow up by text, and meet when there is important collaboration needed.

Cal Newport’s thesis in his book, Deep Work, argues that shared office space is rife with distractions and therefore unproductive. It solves the right problem with the wrong solution when solving for efficiency and effectiveness (think Texas toast). Evidence debunks the myth that greater collaboration and innovation come from more face-to-face access.

In fact, distractions, interruptions, and multi-tasking are symptoms of shrinking mind-share and our capacity to concentrate. That and social media created what Newport refers to as weapons of mass distraction. The price we pay is focus and attention. Squirrel!

Interestingly, WFH adds some distractions while removing most of the more noxious ones. With flexible schedules professionals, teams, and employees are concentrating without the same office-based distractions, creating more value, and appreciating their work, their colleagues, and yes, their managers more.

Sounds like a manager's dream. Make your life better, produce greater value and lift engagement with the creative application of WFH options and alternatives. Become the hero and not the villain for your team.

Performance data is cited here:,This,-Webpage

  • 66% of U.S. employees work remotely, at least part-time.
  • Currently, 68% of Americans would prefer to be fully remote.
  • 56% say they have reduced absences, and 50% use fewer sick days. Overall, a considerable 75% say they have a better work-life balance
  • 85% of managers now believe that teams of remote workers will become the new norm. And they may not have a choice, as 59% of workers report being more likely to choose an employer that allows remote work.
  • 81% of workers expect their employer to continue supporting remote work.
  • Overall, 78% of remote work employees report feeling “highly engaged” in their work, while only 72% of in-office employees say the same.
  • Plus, 74% of workers agree that remote work opportunities make them less likely to leave a company.
  • Turnover reduces by 50% when employees have access to a remote work option.
  • 81% of workers expect their employer to continue supporting remote work.
  • 94% of employees report feeling like their work productivity is the same or higher than before they worked remotely.

  • In the years since 2015, remote work setups have increased by 140% — 10 times more than all other work arrangements (Global Workplace Analytics, 2020).
  • 86% of employees believe that remote work alleviates stress.
  • For instance, they expect to have flexible schedules (65%), to be able to acquire new skills for future jobs (41%), and to have a job that has a large and positive impact on society (40%) (Center for Generational Kinetics, 2020). This goes to show that Gen Zers will take certain things regarding work that older generations would have viewed as a “benefit” as a precondition.
  • Practical benefits include savings, as companies can save up to $11,000 per employee per year when they switch to remote work.
  • Another benefit is for the environment, as remote work can save up to 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Diversity and Dividends

Elon, Sir Isaac Newton remains relevant and so can you.

Twitter’s TL (time line) is a float with news that Twitter offices will be closed and some 3,700 employees told to stay home. Badges won’t gain them access to the buildings tomorrow, Friday 17 November. Elon Musk is called a genius for this $ 44 Billion dollar mess?

NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Musk is a single father to some 9 children, with 3 women, a billionaire, African who has done nothing much for the continent. Musk was quick to send technical assistance to the Ukraine in their time of war but not so quick to African nations.

Musk has gained respect for his wealth because people want money and seem to think it makes a person a good human. Kanye West is another example of a poorly behaved, petulant child that slithered by on his stacks of money.

Twitter Africa in Accra, Ghana wasn’t even given personal notices when they were fired. When Musk purchased the company and spoke of firing staff they (Twitter Africa) thought for some reason they’d not be affected. They were within the first group employees to get the axe, even just opening the brand new office.

From Twitter
PoliticsVerse Twitter Account
Screenshot from Twitter

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post