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Remote work has played an instrumental role in Tesla's success. Long-term, taking away team empowerment on this matter only hurts the company.

Not gonna lie, it's been a challenging summer. The team and I lost a lot of amazing colleagues earlier this summer. As shared before, they were laid off in a thoughtless and cruel manner by upper management, which I'm still processing and will likely write about in more depth in the future. For now, I thought I'd share a brief overview of how we've historically worked, and how the RTO policy is likely to (continue to) affect us and what's ahead.

Tesla was a remote-friendly company long before the pandemic, which forced nearly all companies to embrace work-from-home nearly overnight. It was possible for our Web team to work from home and maintain the same level of quality and productivity as if we were in the office full-time. This was possible because the decision to go remote (or hybrid) was left up to each team and their immediate leadership. When it was time for "all-hands on deck" (to all be on-site), we all knew amongst ourselves — our team — and planned accordingly. Again, this was the case long before the COVID pandemic.

There are so many products, features and initiatives we have successfully worked on and launched while either working remotely or under a hybrid model of in-person and remote. We've been able to collaborate and communicate effectively, and we've been able to deliver on our commitments under either model. We've been able to do this because we've been empowered to do what works best for our team and our work. However, this empowerment now seems to be a thing of the past.

Manny has gone above and beyond the call of duty more times than I can count, always delivering on impossibly tight deadlines yet always managing to keep a positive attitude despite the relentless pressure.

Victor Barclay, Sr. Software Engineering Manager @ Tesla
Sr. Software Engineering Manager @ Tesla

Trust has also been one of the pillars of our culture of excellence and success. The sudden Return-to-Office policy, and its implementation, is the antithesis of this foundation of trust.

Implementing a blanket policy that takes away a teams empowerment to make a decision that best fits their needs is a terrible and reckless one. Among other things, having a lack of trust and taking away remote work options as we've had before, will hurt the company's ability to:

  • Attract and retain diverse talent across the board
  • Be innovative and creative
  • Be competitive

I'm also deeply concerned about the negative impact this policy has had and will likely continue to have on the company's workplace culture and its employees, in addition to colleagues on visas and those already coming from marginalized communities.

Beyod the company mission, I'm also committed to the people I work with and their well-being. In the trenches, Tesla is still full of passionate people who are incredible. I enjoy my work and our work together.

So it's my intention to stay as long as possible. I'll continue to do my very best and leverage my privileges to support my colleagues along the way and be a voice for those who can't speak up.

Manny has been a servant leader for the many years that I’ve known him: kind above all else, thoughtful of his peers and creative in his approach to problem solving.

Mikolaj Walczuk, Creative Content at Tesla
Creative Content at Tesla

I want to give a salute to a few of my colleagues who are no longer with us day in, day out; they were let go earlier this summer amidst a sudden change in remote work policy. The team and I would not have been able to launch the 7th major version of the Tesla Design System without their passion, craft, leadership and core contributions pre-June 15th.

For Alison, Eric, John and Maria - as well as others affected by the abrupt RTO policy - this recent launch is in their honor: thanks friends ✊🏽

Tesla Design System (TDS)

If you're in search for a Design Systems Dream Team, please consider reaching out to these wonderful folks. They're all incredible design system engineers, leaders, people and I'm so grateful to have worked with and learned from them.

Onward and upward.

Manny's ability to motivate and lead others toward a common goal on short, sometimes seemingly impossible deadlines has truly made the difference at Tesla.

Mike Burrell, Jr., Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Dovly | Ex-Tesla
Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Dovly | Ex-Tesla