Ford Motor Company World Headquarters, Dearborn, Michigan, on January 19, 2021.
Aaron J. Thornton | fake images
After various setbacks and delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford Motor Co. it finally began welcoming its salaried workforce to its offices earlier this month.
It also came along with a significant change in the company’s workplace policy that helped establish the traditional five-day, 40-hour workweek as the norm: the start of its new hybrid work model where employees not dependent on site could work flexibly between a remote and Ford campus location.
Ford perhaps had reason to believe that many of his employees would seek to return to the office once the plan was implemented. The the company surveyed 56,000 global employees who were working remotely in June 2020 about their post-pandemic job preferences, with 95% saying they wanted a mix of remote and in-office work, while 5% said they wanted to be on-site.
Still, Ford’s director of people and employee experience Kiersten Robinson said during a virtual CNBC Work event on Wednesday that the early results “have been a bit surprising.”
“When we opened our doors on April 4 to our employees to welcome back to the workplace, those who wanted to come in, the number of people who actually went back to work was lower than we expected,” Robinson said.
While the company is “very early in the experience,” according to Robinson, Ford is still seeing signs among those who have started working that they are capable of “highly collaborative team brainstorming and strategic work together.”
Here are some of the key things Ford has noted since welcoming workers back.
Since Ford has many employees who have jobs that don’t allow for remote or hybrid work, Robinson said the company has been “very clear that the nature of work informs where and how work gets done.”
“In our manufacturing plants, you can only do that work on the premises, so our focus in those places is making sure that the work environment is as conducive and attractive as possible, and what are some of the extra tools and conveniences what we can provide,” he said.
That has prompted Ford to make an effort to examine how it can improve manufacturing facilities, looking for ways to improve worker well-being, nutrition and even natural light in the space, “conditions that can really affect your work experience.” Robinson said.
For knowledge workers, Ford is asking departments to get together with their teams and create a plan for what they need to do in a 90-day period, asking questions about key job tasks and how and where the best ways to work would be. do it. works.
“We’re measuring sentiment, we’re measuring employee experience over those 90 days, but of course we’ll be able to measure outcome and whether or not employees feel with that agency and with that choice, they’re as productive as they need to be.” Robinson said.
Robinson said Ford has already renovated 33% of its southeast Michigan facility to “make it more conducive to collaborative hybrid work,” and that it has a roadmap to continue doing so in the years to come.
Ford assumes that about 50% of its employees will be in the office on any given day, but Robinson said it will test that hypothesis more clearly in the coming months.
Ford confirmed a small reduction in personnel on Wednesday when it reported earnings, a net loss of $3.1 billion in the first quarter, largely due to the loss in value of a 12% stake in the EV startup rivian automotive. As it pivots to electric vehicles, 580 U.S. salaried and agency workers, mostly in engineering, have been laid off as part of Ford+’s turnaround plan.
The company has no plans to reduce the number of facilities it has, but instead to make the spaces as conducive to hybrid working as possible, he said.
With workers now back in the office, Ford is keeping a closer eye on how the spaces are actually used.
“We have very clear data on traffic patterns, the days that are most popular, and we’re using sensors in many of our facilities to even measure what types of spaces are being used and for what purpose,” Robinson said.
“There is no perfect answer here, other than I don’t think we can go back to how we worked before the pandemic,” he said. “I really hope we all embrace this as an opportunity to really rethink and reimagine the evolution of work and really experiment and invest in understanding employee feedback, employee sentiment and use that to continue refining and reshaping what work looks like.” .”