It's another sign the pandemic is changing working life as we know it.
With workplaces shut down during the global pandemic, many of us have adjusted to working from home. For many Ford employees, this will continue even once the pandemic has ended. According to The Washington Post, Ford is introducing a new policy that will allow thousands of employees to continue working remotely indefinitely in North America.
From July, Ford employees will be given the option to have a "hybrid" working schedule, allowing them to return to the office for face-to-face group meetings and projects and work independently at home when possible. Around Ford 30,000 employees in North America will have the option to continue working remotely with flexible working hours.
"The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent - you need to be in the physical space to do the job," said David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, the company's real estate subsidiary. "Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. It's up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their leader to determine what works best."
Since employees were sent home, Ford has been monitoring how working remotely has affected productivity and employee wellbeing over the last six months. In a survey, 95 percent of Ford's global employees said they would prefer a mixture of working in-person and remotely after the pandemic. Many also felt more productive and happier working from home. It's a clear sign the pandemic is changing working life as we know it, but you have to wonder how this will affect upcoming product launches like the Ford Maverick compact pickup and electric F-150.
Ford is the first major automaker to announce this new flexible working pattern, but it probably won't be the last. General Motors has confirmed employees working from home will return to the office in June or July with a "more flexible" work schedule "based on a person's responsibilities."
Last year, Toyota also confirmed employees at its US headquarters in Plano, Texas will continue working from home until June. While many Ford office employees will have a more flexible working life, some factory workers are having to work extra hours to make up for production shortfalls caused by the pandemic. Stellantis (formerly FCA), for example, is introducing a controversial policy requiring skilled trade workers to work 84 hours a week to increase Ram 1500 production.