Elon Musk does not believe in the 40-hour work week as a way of changing the world. The tech entrepreneur shared a Twitter post Monday urging his 23.5 million followers to apply for jobs at his companies Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, while stating that “there are way easier places to work, but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.”
It’s perhaps an unsurprising statement from Musk, who said in August that he was working 120-hour weeks, sleeping at the Tesla factory and taking Ambien to get to sleep while the company pushed through a difficult period of expansion. However, Musk also said in a Sunday interview that the experience hurt “my brain and my heart,” adding “no one should put these many hours into work.” In a follow-up tweet on Monday, though, Musk advocated for regularly working 80 hours per week and sometimes pushing above 100:
Musk is perhaps not wrong that there are easier places to work. Tesla has received criticism for long work hours and demanding schedules. Michael Sanchez told The Daily Beast he had to look up “every day, 12 hours a day, six days a week, hands over my shoulder, it was two herniated disks in my neck.” Another worker, Jose Moran, also described excessive overtime and weeks longer than 40 hours. In a February 2017 email, Musk claimed the average amount of time worked by production team members amounted to 43 hours per week, with a 50 percent decline year-over-year in overtime hours.
Musk’s previous comments about his 120-hour work week drew strong criticism. Arianna Huffington penned an open letter in August criticizing the practice as “a wildly outdated, anti-scientific and horribly inefficient way of using human energy,” citing a study from 2000 that showed people that go 17 to 19 hours without sleep fared as well as people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent. Musk hit back at the letter by stating that “you think this is an option. It is not.” Nonetheless, his demanding schedule left him dismissing investor questions in a May earnings call as “boneheaded” and “dry,” comments he claimed in the following earnings call were caused by his tough 120-hour weeks.
By Musk’s own account, Tesla has pulled itself out of its tricky situation after the launch of the Model 3 back in July 2017. Musk said in a Sunday interview the company faced a “severe threat of death,” a situation that’s unlikely to repeat itself with the launch of the Model Y next spring.
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