On March 17, the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker announced a new policy that will allow all non-place-dependent employees to work remotely on a permanent basis. The policy will affect approximately 30,000 workers throughout North America.
The company is one of the first automakers to adopt a long-term remote work model for its staff.
Ford employees, who have been working at home for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return to the office for assignments that require face-to-face interaction beginning in July. At that point, they will meet with managers to develop an office-remote work schedule that best suits their needs.
“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model,” said David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, the automaker’s real estate division. “There are certain jobs that are place-dependent, [meaning] you need to be in the physical space to do the job.”
However, he also said that giving employees the ability and flexibility to choose where they work “is pretty powerful.”
According to Dubensky, Ford has been monitoring employees’ productivity and satisfaction while working remotely for more than six months.
A June 2020 survey conducted by the company found that 95% of its global employees would prefer to work part-time from home. It also found that many workers were happier and more productive while working remotely.
Ford currently requires in-person employees, such as plant workers, to undergo temperature checks, complete coronavirus symptom surveys, conduct contact tracing and follow cleaning protocols at its facilities. Those procedures will continue when employees return to the office this summer.
While the automaker will not require employees to get vaccinated before returning to the office, it will provide educational materials to workers about available COVID-19 vaccines.
Remote work has been successful for both employees and employers during the pandemic, and many tech companies have taken steps to incorporate work-from-home models into their long-term plans.
However, while General Motors and Toyota have extended temporary remote work policies for workers, Ford is the only automaker to announce a flexible work model intended to continue after the pandemic ends.