Ford Motor Co., is giving more than 30,000 salaried employees across North America, including 1,800 in Canada, the best of both worlds.
The automaker said in March it will begin phasing in a new remote-office work model, one of the first in the industry, granting employees the option to continue doing their jobs from home indefinitely.
The move comes after a 2020 global company survey showed 95 per cent of respondents preferred a mix of remote and in-office work in a post-pandemic world.
It also stems from a thorough and thoughtful reexamination of what the company calls “the future of work at Ford.”
The hybrid approach allows the company to capitalize on the benefits of the virtual environment, including flexibility, productivity and employee satisfaction. Meanwhile, it will use its offices for larger meetings, workshops or team-building activities.
“No one would have imagined this being possible two years ago,”
Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology, told sibling publication Automotive News. “When Facebook did it, people said, ‘OK, well, tech companies do that kind of thing.’ When Ford does it, employers really need to take notice.”
And, for good reason. The Dearborn, Mich., automaker has rewritten the playbook on the employer-employee relationship, and has set an industrywide standard key to recruiting top talent.
Once considered a perk, remote work is now, because of pandemic-related restrictions, viewed as a condition of employment.
“The future of work is flexible,” says a national study by ADP Canada, a Toronto-based management-consulting firm.
The survey, released last September, found that 45 per cent of Canadian respondents said they would prefer to work remotely at least three days a week, and more than one quarter would prefer to work flex hours.
“It’s clear that employees want to choose how and when they work,” Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP Canada, said in a statement. “Employers that embrace flexibility within their culture may improve employee engagement, retention and performance.”
Younger Canadians appear particularly drawn to a hybrid model, with 61 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 saying they prefer to work remotely at least three days a week, compared with 43 per cent of workers over 35.
Flexible work, however, requires the appropriate tools to support collaboration, productivity and engagement in a remote environment. And, that’s precisely what Ford is doing by investing in new technology and redesigning some buildings into collaborative spaces.
Other auto companies are following Ford’s lead. General Motors, on April 20th, launched a new remote work standard, dubbed “Work Appropriately,” to reflect adjusted workplace expectations post-pandemic. The new guideline is designed to give employees the flexibility to work from wherever they are most efficient, GM said, and it gives the automaker access to a broader talent pool beyond its office locations.
Honda Canada, meanwhile, has indicated it’s moving in a similar direction.
“We are in the process of finalizing an updated remote-work policy and will be announcing details once completed,” said Honda spokesman John Bordignon.
The pandemic has indeed accelerated change. And Ford is leading the way, forging a new path that treats employees like adults, not minions in need of supervision.
It’s smart, it’s progressive and it’s about time.