The over 100-year-old Ford Motor Company announced a new progressive, flexible, hybrid work model for its employees. The iconic automobile company plans to radically redesign the workplace.
Ford informed about 30,000 white-collar office workers that they can continue to work from home “indefinitely” and have “flexible hours approved by their managers.” It’s anticipated that people will come into the office primarily for meetings and group projects.
Kiersten Robinson, Ford chief people and employee experiences officer, says that employees won’t return to the office before July. Once they return, the amount of time working remotely will be determined by the responsibilities of the job and input from their supervisors.
Robinson added, “The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.” She’s not calling this the “future of work,” as it’s an “evolution,” as the carmaker recognizes that there will likely be changes and modifications as time goes on.
Ford will redesign its corporate office interiors. The workspaces will be retrofitted to be versatile and adaptable to future needs for change. This includes walls, furniture, fixtures, conference rooms and collaborative spaces. Attention will be paid to enabling video calls and deploying technology to enhance virtual connectivity among co-workers and managers.
This big change was inspired by a company-wide survey. About 95% of Ford’s office workers said they’d prefer having the options to self-determine the manner in which they want to work. Ford feels that this empowerment will lead to better job satisfaction, happier workers and offer a nicer work and life balance. Ford acknowledges that there may be some negative perception, as white-collar employees are able to work remotely, while factory and production workers don’t have that luxury.
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Ford joins a growing list of major corporations, such as Google, Salesforce, Spotify and Twitter, that are offering worker-friendly programs. It’s becoming clear that the post-pandemic work world will not resemble what we had only a little over one year ago. This cultural shift destroyed the biases some managers held against those who wanted to work from home. The rapid ascendancy of technologies and software, such as Zoom, has shown that corporate America now has many other options to run a company.
Jed Kolko, chief economist of large job aggregation site Indeed, said, “If job postings are a guide, employers are increasingly open to remote work, even as some employees return to the workplace.” Job postings that reference “remote work” or “work from home” on its platform reached 7% last month, up from just below 3% a year ago. Some sectors were much higher.
Management consulting firm PwC reported that around 55% of respondent executives to a survey said they envision allowing continued remote work. Only 17% said they wanted employees to quickly return to work at an office setting.
There is a downside to this fast-evolving trend. We’ve seen an exodus out of big cities to the suburbs and smaller, lower-cost locations. Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at Redfin, said, “More Americans have sought cheaper homes in lesser-known cities and suburbs.” With the rise of remote work, people have left New York, Los Angeles, Boston and the San Francisco Bay area, in favor of Phoenix, Tampa, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, North Carolina.
We are entering a new and exciting paradigm. The trends show that both the way we work and where we work will radically change within the next six months. These developments could be a boon for workers, as they may no longer have to endure long, tedious commutes and will be able to spend more quality time with their families.
Companies benefit from a significant reduction in real estate costs. Having happier and more empowered workers could lead to enhanced productivity, which will improve the bottom line for their corporations.