Exclusive: Many firms are following Elon Musk's tough stance on working from home

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New data collected by TechRadar Pro shows that few businesses are convinced of the long-term viability of full-time remote working

A survey of 3,000 IT professionals and other workers, conducted in partnership with Perimeter 81, revealed that the majority of companies (59%) have allowed fewer than half of the workforce to shift to a remote or hybrid working model.

Almost a quarter (24%) of businesses, meanwhile, have demanded that all employees return to the office full-time as pandemic restrictions are withdrawn.

The remote working debate

The debate around working from home has become increasingly politicized over time, with many right-wing outlets painting remote employees as work-shy, and left-leaning commentators failing to acknowledge the potential effects on business output.

Another factor adding to the complexity is that the luxury of working from home cannot be extended to blue-collar workers, whose jobs cannot be conducted remotely, creating a divide between frontline and corporate staff.

One of the fiercest and most high-profile critics of remote working has been Elon Musk, who recently announced a no-tolerance policy at Tesla.

“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean minimum) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers,” he wrote, in a letter to employees.

Last week, it emerged that Tesla is actively monitoring attendance at its offices, and sending out automated messages to workers who do not swipe in frequently enough. These employees are being asked to explain their absence to management.

Although most businesses are likely to handle the situation a little more delicately than Musk, who told employees annoyed by the policy to “pretend to work somewhere else”, the data shows that many are thinking along the same lines, or at least hedging their bets.

The vast majority of businesses have continued to operate at least one corporate office, for example, with only 17.4% of respondents diving head-first into the remote-only model.

A certain scepticism is also betrayed by data on spending patterns, which shows that most companies continue to invest in on-premise infrastructure, despite the surge in spending on cloud-based software and services.

The debate will rage on, but it would appear the op-eds on the death of the office were premature.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.