The COVID-19 pandemic compelled automakers to ask their salaried employees to work from home until the emergency passed or an alternative plan was developed. Ford appears to have its alternate plans ready nearly a full year after the shift.
The automaker expects to offer some of its salaried workers the opportunity to return to an office setting, but through a hybrid schedule that will see them working from home part of the week and then on-site on other days.
Currently, the company has about 30,000 employees in North America working from home, Automotive News reported. The plan, which is still being finalized, will not be implemented until after the pandemic ends.
Employee input drives plan
Ford officials told the publication that the hybrid model was developed due to significant interest from its employees. The details of exactly how will work were not revealed, but one Ford employee told TheDetroitBureau.com it would be a dramatic change from the office environment they left last spring.
The source noted that they hadn’t seen any formal plans but were told that employees would no longer be able to personalize their workspaces as they would be used by other workers on the days the first employee worked from home.
Each workspace would be configured to be used by employees with vastly different roles and tasks. The plan called for crews to clean each area every night so workers would come to a safe workspace.
Additionally, employees who aren’t required to be on-site for their roles would be allowed to continue working from home, although they may be required to come into an office for meetings or other activities, Automotive News reported.
Those determinations would be made by the employee in concert with their supervisor. The company added it would be investing in technology and reorganizing some spaces due to the new hybrid model.
Timeline to return
Last year, Ford officials told employees they should expect to work from home until June, when a determination would be made about the next steps. The company told Automotive News nothing has altered that timeline.
Ford wasn’t the only Detroit-area automaker that sent salaried executives home to work during the pandemic. General Motors did as well and while it’s in the process of shifting several employees to different sites in southeastern Michigan right now no firm plans have been made for bringing remote workers back yet.
While GM plans to bring back its remote work force in the summer, some degree of remote work is likely to continue, GM spokesman Dave Caldwell told Automotive News.
“We’re working on those details currently. The future will be more flexible,” Caldwell said in an email. “We are seeking to maintain the benefits of remote work, while also ensuring our teams get the benefit of in-person collaboration.”