The Sacramento Bee

GM reveals post-COVID-19 plans for offices, employees

- BY JAMIE L. LAREAU Detroit Free Press

General Motors’ whitecolla­r workforce will see a markedly different culture post-pandemic as employees adopt a new initiative of how and where they will work.

GM on Tuesday introduced what it calls “Work Appropriat­ely” to its global workforce of 155,000 employees.

Work Appropriat­ely is not a policy, GM insists. It is a mindset, a culture shift that gives many salaried workers more flexibilit­y to work remotely or come into the office if necessary to best perform their jobs.

It is a tipping point that will likely change GM’s footprint in Southeast Michigan, though to what extent remains unknown.

The automaker may see fewer people inside its world headquarte­rs in Detroit’s Renaissanc­e Center on a daily basis, for example, and individual desks will give way to community work spaces.

Work Appropriat­ely is not about saving money, GM says. It hasn’t even done that math yet.

But GM’s ability to recruit top talent rises exponentia­lly with the flexibilit­y Work Appropriat­ely will offer future employees.

“COVID has had such a profound effect on all of our lives,” said Laura Jones, GM’s director of global talent. “We started thinking about a postCOVID state. It’s not about a policy or a one-size fits all approach, but rather a solution and mindset that suits everyone.”

‘WORK APPROPRIAT­ELY’

The idea of Work Appropriat­ely is simple: As a job permits, employees have flexibilit­y to work where they will be most efficient.

Some groups will find hybrid solutions such as working in the office parttime and remotely at other times. Others will be empowered to develop a new flexibilit­y to their in-person work, Jones said.

GM is still on track for salaried workers in southeast Michigan to return to the office in late June or early July, but Work Appropriat­ely will be incorporat­ed into how that happens for each of them.

The name Work Appropriat­ely is derived from CEO Mary Barra’s 2009 move – when she was vice president of global human resources – to toss out GM’s 10-page treatise on clothing policies. Instead, she simply said, “Dress appropriat­ely.” Barra empowered managers to work with their teams to decide the appropriat­e dress code for their jobs.

There are GM employees who will need to be in the workplace to meet GM’s business needs such as building vehicles, calling on car dealers, working in labs, developing and reviewing physical properties, working in warehouses, some experienti­al learning and collaborat­ion, and onboarding, coaching and team-building activities.

But work that can be effectivel­y done remotely includes solo work that doesn’t require an onsite resource; informatio­n sharing or status update meetings using tools like Teams.

For those jobs that require being onsite, Barra said that GM will look at ways to, “be more flexible, improve onsite spaces and work differentl­y.”

OPENS THE TALENT POOL

Work Appropriat­ely is also a strong recruiting tool that GM believes will significan­tly open the talent pool, said Cyril George, GM’s global talent acquisitio­n director.

That is key to the automaker considerin­g GM’s push to hire engineers to develop electric vehicles and self-driving cars. GM has said it aspires for all its new light vehicles to be zero emissions by 2035.

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