On Wednesday, Ford Motor Co. announced that 30,000 employees worldwide will have the option of working from home — for good.
In July, these Ford employees can return to the office for tasks that require meeting in-person, such as group projects. They can choose to work from home for any other assignment. The flexible hours sometimes accorded to employees working from home will need to be approved by Ford managers.
For six months, Ford has been surveying employees who have been working from home since March 2020. Ford also formed a consortium to determine possible work-from-home scenarios. In June 2020, a Ford survey found that 95% of their employees would like a combination of an at-home and in-person work environment.
Why is Ford’s move significant after Facebook and other companies have stated that they are moving towards remote work? The automotive sector has yet to have another company besides Ford make a formal announcement that remote work was becoming permanent for at least part of their workforce. Toyota and General Motors have announced that they are bringing remote employees back to the workplace in June or July.
It is also significant that large-scale employers are navigating towards keeping the work-from-home model intact, possibly enhancing employee quality of life through better work-life balance.
Of course, the move towards permanent remote employees also saves companies money. They most likely would not be moving towards this model if they were losing profits. Some employers are downsizing workspaces — such as Target, which is closing a downtown Minneapolis office due to employees now working remotely. Ford is planning on selling buildings and consolidating workspaces after the announcement of 30,000 employees now having the option of working remotely.
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The other significant aspect of Ford’s decision is how quickly they moved to make remote work a permanent feature of 30,000 employees. They began research into this model shortly into the Covid-19 pandemic. The amount of energy Ford put towards researching permanent remote work has rarely been disclosed by other companies, with the exception of those in the technology sector.
There is an overall trend towards remote work becoming permanent, even after the pandemic. Job site Indeed reported that remote job postings have doubled since the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to rise. Consider that Covid-19 vaccinations are increasing while remote job postings are still gaining strength.
If there is at least one positive to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work has accelerated much more than expected, and that trend is becoming permanent in many locations. Additionally, working remotely is showing a trend towards creating happier and healthier employees.