By on June 17, 2020


By now, most Americans are sick of seeing the inside of their own homes, but not everyone falls into that camp. There’s pros to go with working from home that, in some cases, outweigh the cons.

Ford Motor Company, which sent 30,000 U.S. employees home amid the coronavirus pandemic, wants to hear from this cohort on whether remote work should become the status quo.

Not for all, probably, but maybe for some. As automakers figure out how they return to normal operations in a world plagued by a lurking virus, the benefits of keeping a contingent of employees out of the office are clear. A depleted population in non-manufacturing work spaces would lessen the likelihood of a viral outbreak. Maybe Ford could shut off the lights and save some cash that way, as well as do away with cleaning and screening procedures.

The environment would breathe easier with fewer commuters on the road, and other drivers would, too. Consenting adults might be tempted into fewer marriage-destroying affairs.

As reported by The Detroit News, Ford has begun surveying the 30,000 housebound employees for their thoughts on how the company should move forward on the whole office life thing.

“We’re going to learn a ton between September and December,” Ford’s chief human resources officer, Kiersten Robinson, Ford’s chief human resources officer, told the paper. “I do anticipate we will have some employees who would like to continue to work from home indefinitely.”

Earlier this month, Ford announced that its salaried workforce would remain working from home until September. Other automakers find themselves grappling with the same issue. It’s unlikely any will see things truly return to normal without the discovery of a effective coronavirus treatment or vaccine. Face-to-face meetings, crowded rooms, and general duration of exposure to others are all risk factors in viral transmission. And wearing a mask  indoors all day long sounds exquisitely hellish.

From The Detroit News:

The survey will ask remote employees whether they would prefer to return to the workplace; take a blended approach that allows them to alternate between remote work and coming into the office; or work remotely on a permanent basis.

Whether employees who wish to work remotely full-time will be allowed to do so will be determined based on conversations between the employee and their supervisor, Robinson said.

Since the company restarted its factories, some 100,000 Ford workers have returned to the production line, along with with 12,000 non-manufacturing employees whose jobs can’t be accomplished remotely. The remainder will apparently dictate their own futures.

[Image: Ford]

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27 Comments on “Back to the Office Cooler? It Might Not Happen for Some Ford Employees...”

  • avatar

    Will someone think of the pets? Sure, dogs would love to have their owners around all the time – they’re pack animals, and more quality time with the leader of the pack is a plus.

    But what about cats? They largely run around at night when humans are sleeping, but cats sleep in sunbeams during the day, and don’t like having their humans puttering about, disturbing them.

    All the calculations are about the job and the company, normally compartmentalized into five-day, eight hour slices, performed away from the home where normal life occurs. This work at home business is violating the constitutional separation of work and real life.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course, it’s a good question. It’s a valid question.

      And it’s a great cover!

      Ford is losing a lotta dough. They need to save some money. They will be looking to prune the salary workforce.

      Across town, the great one told Wall St that GM has found they can do some tasks better, or not at all.

      And her 2018 Thanksgiving gift of 5,000 jobs cut, “doing it now, while the economy is good”, is looking pretty prudent.

      GM will be cutting people too.

      The logisitics are tricky though…if they are working remote, how do you call some one in to fire them? Or, do you fire them via skype, with details to be handled remotely? Do they keep their computer? How do they return it?

      Elsewhere, some write, “working from home is like a pay raise!”

      Yay! All the money you save, that you don’t spend–the clothes cleaners, the quick lunch, the incidental stops to/from work where you might spend, that employs people. Don’t need as many of them, do we?

      I suppose if those savings are ‘redirected’ somewhere else, some one else gains, and labor can shift to meet those needs. But my sense is, especially now, people will pocket and save the money. Hopefully the purchasing power of these new ‘free savings’ won’t evaporate….. I must say, so far, society is holding up nicely

      At some point, they won’t buy whatever it is you do at home perhaps.

      And yet, the unemployed make more now than they did as clothes cleaners, or Subway chefs.

      This is surreal… stay tuned

  • avatar

    Lets hope other companies follow suit.

    I’ve always said that about 70% of my work could be done from home. Now we have proven its more like 90%. My company is looking at a 50/50 workforce split to maintain social distancing, IE: 1/2 the staff would work from home for a week, then be in the office the next week. We recently downsized our cubicals (ugh), thus if we are all in the office together you are always within 3 feet of someone else!

    Working from home is like getting a raise – I’m saving gas, tolls and wear-n-tear on my vehicle, not to mention the stress of commuting. The typical 9-to-5 grind isn’t efficient, having everyone drive to work at the same time has never made sense to me. Especially since like most large companies I have coworkers, customers and clients across multiple time zones.

    • 0 avatar

      There are jobs that can be done from home. Some of what I do could in theory be done from home but if I had to see a person directly because of a phone/ on-line assessment, I’d have to offload it or go to work anyways.

      • 0 avatar

        New trend/opportunity: House calls.

        Makes perfect sense in a world of COVID. (Example: The pediatrician’s office is the very best place to get your kid sick.) Stay home and pay a premium for the healthcare practitioner to come to you.

    • 0 avatar

      US society would not let go of the 20th Century concepts such as commuting and office space.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah that is something I said from the begining of the lock down and that is that a lot of people are going to end up with more money left over at the end of the month than they had in the past. Less money spent on fuel, but also no expensive coffee on the way to work, no lunch out, no stopping at the bar, no dinners out, no salon trips, no day care, no housekeeper, no movies ect. Sure not everyone spends their money in all of those ways but most people do at least some of them.

      So if you are working from home at full pay it feels like you got a raise.

      Then you have the people who were layed off and thanks to that $600/wk bonus are actually bringing home more money than they did working, and those who’s employers are paying a bonus and/or giving them more hours than they typically worked.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, the last couple of months have been less bad than they could have been, and the government support has been a big reason why. But the $600/week bonus expires July 31. Also, eviction and foreclosure proceedings are starting back up soon, if they haven’t already. There are some storm clouds gathering.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “And wearing a mask indoors all day long sounds exquisitely hellish.”

    That’s how my office is operating, and we’re in a ‘green’ status area. But we make a Class 3 medical device, so management is being very cautious.

    Most of the engineers like me are working from home, but masks are mandatory for in-office work, with no end date announced yet. I’ve been in there for about 10% of my work hours, and only if I need to work in the lab.

    I can foresee being told to continue working from home, but I hate it. Work has been an invasion of my safe space at home, and the commute was good for mentally ramping up and down. Plus, it’s been harder to limit my hours.

    On the plus side, I’ve saving money on lunch expenses and road tolls, and a few bucks on electricity for the EV.

    • 0 avatar

      Masks are pointless. Studies are showing now they do nothing as droplets are spread up to 4’ away (although some of us could have told you masks were pointless without the studies…)

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @EB: Comrade,why are you wasting your time posting comments that are so easily shown to be uninformed?

        From the National Academy of Science of the USA, published on May 14, 2020

        ‘Various mitigation measures have been implemented to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, including widely adopted social distancing and mandated face covering. However, assessing the effectiveness of those intervention practices hinges on the understanding of virus transmission, which remains uncertain. Here we show that airborne transmission is highly virulent and represents the dominant route to spread the disease. By analyzing the trend and mitigation measures in Wuhan, China, Italy, and New York City, from January 23 to May 9, 2020, we illustrate that the impacts of mitigation measures are discernable from the trends of the pandemic. Our analysis reveals that the difference with and without mandated face covering represents the determinant in shaping the pandemic trends in the three epicenters. This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9. Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing implemented in the United States, are insufficient by themselves in protecting the public. We conclude that wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission, and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with simultaneous social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Our work also highlights the fact that sound science is essential in decision-making for the current and future public health pandemics.’

      • 0 avatar

        The masks are also for the prevention of you directly coughing, sneezing or spit talking on someone. Please wear yours.

      • 0 avatar

        Pretty much everything eb says is pointless.

  • avatar

    Working from home would be easier without kids in the house. I can make summer work, but 12 months of kids at home distance learning will push a lot of people (well, those who can because someone else is managing the kids at home) back into the office.

    The critical mass of turning an office based culture into a work from home office culture is now, and maybe expiring in the next six months.

    Strike now or make your peace with a weird new normal sterile office with one way traffic, a front desk worker with a thermometer, and 30 min waits for an elevator with less than four people in it so you can squeeze into a corner still warm from the last guy.

    I am quite lucky in that all my work can be done from home in a lockable office separate from the rest of the house and family.

    But of my team of seven only one other person has this luxury. Even our SVP works out of her bedroom and our CEO works out of a three season porch.

    I imagine my company will be all back in the office within the year.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Sadly folks that take my job home with them go to prison.

  • avatar

    So Ford is continuing the corona cold nonsense for the white collar workers (because they’re moronic and think corona is something to be afraid of) yet the blue collar workers don’t get that luxury and have to get to work in the factories.

    Not only is Ford is incredibly stupid but they’re astoundingly hypocritical too. Got it

  • avatar

    Commuting becomes dangerous in Bay area because your car may be vandalized while on parking or even on freeway if they stop traffic. I try staying closer to home at all times.

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