DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co (F.N) is re-evaluating how much office space it needs for white-collar workers as restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic are eased and employees return to workplaces.
Ford brought back 12,000 salaried employees last month, and others have been told they can work from home until September, spokeswoman Marisa Bradley said. Given potential workplace changes caused by the outbreak, a facility consolidation the No. 2 U.S. automaker had already launched could accelerate.
“If we know we are going to have a smaller population that’s going to come back to work, we could look at maybe shrinking our footprint,” Bradley said.
U.S. companies are wrestling with who can work from home and how much office space is necessary.
Ford Chief Operating Officer Jim Farley said recently many salaried employees can work from home, and the Dearborn, Michigan-based company could eliminate offices. The shutdown is “really an opportunity to redesign how we do work,” he said.
A GM spokesman said the No. 1 U.S. automaker is not looking at consolidating office space, but is bringing salaried workers back in phases, focusing first on those “who need to be in the office to do their job.”
Hourly workers in the automakers’ U.S. plants largely returned to work May 18 after a two-month lockdown, using greater safety measures such as screening workers for fevers and providing face masks.
Reporting by Ben Klayman, Nick Carey and Joseph White; Editing by David Gregorio