RMF leaders to Elon Musk: Place employees, accessibility over ‘celebrity’ in office work policy

Leaders from Reverse Mortgage Funding took Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk to task over recent comments he made about forcing executives to return to office work

Executives from the leadership team at top 10 reverse mortgage lender Reverse Mortgage Funding, LLC (RMF) responded to thoughts recently shared by the world’s richest person, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk, about forcing the company’s executives to return to work in the office full-time.

David Peskin, president of RMF.
David Peskin

RMF CEO Craig Corn and President David Peskin described for Fortune magazine how the work-from-home policy instituted by their company since the start of the pandemic has placed employee accessibility first, something which Corn says is a different approach from the one that is being championed by Musk.

While Corn explains that Musk’s preferred policy may be appropriate for workers in the company’s factories, the Tesla CEO’s “belief in an executive’s role for in-person visibility is overinflated,” the publication says of Corn’s perspective.

“Instead of chasing their own celebrity or brand, company executives should focus on accessibility,” Corn tells the publication. “Most employees don’t need — or want — their executives working beside them.”

The wide proliferation of video calling tools such as the Zoom platform and adoption of other remote work solutions has mitigated the need for a strictly office-focused working environment, Corn says. Flexibility also allows for RMF to be more competitive, adds Peskin.

“As […] Peskin explains, flexibility helps maintain a diverse, healthy, and engaging work environment — especially for fully remote companies competing for top talent across the nation,” the publication writes.

Broadly speaking, several major reverse mortgage companies embraced remote work policies in the early days of the pandemic. In addition to RMF, American Advisors Group (AAG) launched a fully hybrid workforce model alongside the move to a new headquarters complex in Irvine, Calif. last year.

Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. (PRMI)’s reverse mortgage division began remote hiring practices in 2020, and Liberty Reverse Mortgage implemented and maintains a hybrid model which was recently spoken about by Mike Kent, the company’s president at the recent National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association (NRMLA) Western Regional Meeting last month.

“We will not have employees full-time back in the office,” Kent said at the event. “We do engagement surveys with our staff quarterly, and for the last seven or eight quarters, 85% of our staff have told us they want to stay at home.”

Musk announced to Tesla employees recently that they must spend “a minimum” of 40 hours in the company’s offices, according to an internal email obtained and shared by electric car news site Electrek. In response to a Twitter question about the policy and asking for him to comment to “people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept,” Musk replied that such people should “pretend to work somewhere else.”

In a follow-up memo obtained by Bloomberg, Musk explained his perspective that the presence of executives in an office environment is essential.

“The more senior you are, the more visible must be your presence,” Musk wrote according to the news outlet. “That is why I lived in the factory so much — so that those on the line could see me working alongside them. If I had not done that, Tesla would long ago have gone bankrupt.”

According to a tabulation by Forbes, Musk recently surpassed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person, with a reported net worth of $219 billion. Read the article featuring the RMF executives’ comments at Fortune.

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