It’s been two and a half years since the onset of the COVID pandemic forced millions of American workers out of the office, and white-collar workers at Michigan-based automaker General Motors remain unconvinced they should return to in-person work.
GM sent a memo to its salaried employees last week, detailing an immediate plan to move back to in-office work for three days a week as COVID no longer poses the same threat it did two years ago. The plan was met with backlash after the company has promoted its “Work Appropriately” policy allowing salaried employees and their managers to come up with a schedule based on individual needs and preferences.
“You can probably imagine what the general mood is,” an employee told the Detroit Free Press. “The company has been talking a good game about Work Appropriately since this all began, and we were completely blindsided by this news.”
GM took a step back Tuesday and apologized for the “unfortunate” bad timing of a note from company leadership signaling a return to in-person work.
Since April of 2021, GM has used the “Work Appropriately” policy, and the company’s website still promotes the policy, stating, “our employees have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact to achieve their goals and for their individual success.”
Last week, the motor company said it was time to move back to more of an in-person schedule. “Over time, we have lost some of the important, intangible benefits of regularly working together in-person including, casual mentoring, more efficient communication and bringing an enterprise mindset to our work,” GM CEO Mary Barra wrote in a note to employees.
In the apology, company executives explained that some of the information told to employees came from a senior leader meeting and was shared “prematurely.” GM then told employees that it will listen to their concerns and provide more information on the policy at the end of October.