The Sacramento Bee
GM reveals post-COVID-19 plans for offices, employees
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.”
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.