DETROIT — Some Ford Motor Co. salaried employees won't be returning to the office until at least 2021.
It's the second time that Ford has pushed back plans to bring back workers who have been operating remotely since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The automaker on Wednesday said it will survey about 1,000 employees in Canada and 30,000 U.S. employees to gauge whether they want to return to their office, remain at home or try a hybrid approach during the final four months of the year.
Ford also plans to survey its global virtual work force, giving employees who have returned to offices in other regions the option to change their preference.
While the offer formally extends until the end of the year, a spokesman said Ford will use the survey results to shape its work policy for 2021.
"As we make plans to bring back the remote workforce, many team members favored these new ways to work and found them empowering, flexible and cost effective," Ford said in a statement. "This has inspired us to expand the optionality for this work arrangement beyond September, allowing employees to share their preference — remote, on site or a hybrid approach — in a survey that will be issued globally to the virtual workforce."
Ford originally aimed to get most workers back to their offices by early July but recently changed the target to September. The company now says waiting until at least the start of 2021 would allow it to obtain adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and make additional changes to its facilities for proper social distancing.
Last month, Ford resumed production at its North American manufacturing facilities. At the same time, it recalled about 12,000 nonmanufacturing employees whose jobs required them to be on site. Ford says more than 100,000 workers globally have returned to the workplace since May.