Elon Musk, the Tesla chief executive, has asked employees to return to the office or “pretend to work somewhere else”, according to a memo sent to staff.

About 30% of US office workers are still working from home, according to Nick Bloom, a Stanford economics professor and co-founder of Working from Home Research Project. Many companies are moving to a hybrid work model where staff will come in two or three days a week.

But the world’s richest man has apparently soured on the idea of his executives working from home. In a memo headlined “Remote work is no longer acceptble” [sic], Musk wrote that “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.”

Neither Musk nor Tesla have confirmed that he sent the memo but in a reply to a Twitter follower asking for “​​additional comment to people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept”, Musk wrote: “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

In the memo Musk said he would “review and approve” any cases where staff could not meet the minimum.

Tesla joins a wave of companies mandating a return to office for employees. While some big employers have embraced voluntary work-from-home policies permanently, others including Alphabet’s Google are betting that it is best to push in-person interactions among colleagues.

The news comes as Musk continues to pursue a takeover of Twitter, whose San Francisco office, he has suggested, could be turned into a “homeless shelter since no one show up anyway”.

The Twitter chief executive, Parag Agrawal, tweeted in March that Twitter offices would be reopening but employees could still work from home if they wanted to.

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“Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever,” Agrawal said in a tweet.


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