Home Factor company GM delays back-to-office mandate after employee backlash

GM delays back-to-office mandate after employee backlash


General Motors CEO Mary Barra speaks to reporters as they await the arrival of President Joe Biden during the North American International Auto Show media day in Detroit, Michigan on September 14 2022.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

DETROIT — General Motors is doing some damage control around its return-to-work plans after a Friday afternoon message to employees sparked backlash and confusion.

The company’s management team said on Friday that company employees would be required to return to physical locations at least three days a week, starting at the end of the year, in what the company called for an evolution of its current remote work policies.

On Tuesday, a second post returned to that schedule and clarified that the company would not mandate specific workdays, instead leaving that decision to individual teams.

“Our plan has always been, and still is, to collaboratively design the solution that best balances the needs of the business with the needs of each of you,” reads the memo, which was signed by CEO Mary Barra and other executives, a copy of which was viewed by CNBC.

The follow-up message says no workers will be required to return to their offices until the first quarter of next year.

“While we have maintained a highly collaborative culture over the past two years during a very challenging time, the intangible benefits of in-person collaboration are going to be a critical success factor as we enter a period of rapid launches,” said said Tuesday’s message. . “This development aims to be ready for the next phase of our transformation.”

A GM spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the post, saying it was “seeking to provide further clarity to help address some of the questions and concerns we have received.” She said the timing of the return to power has changed, but “the overall plan hasn’t really changed”.

Both messages are a step change from the automaker’s flexible “work appropriately” rules that were announced by Barra and welcomed by the company in April 2021. GM described it as a flexible and scalable policy that will differ by employee, week and project.

GM apologized on Tuesday for the timing of the original post and its vagueness. Executives said the previous communication was sent after some information about the company’s plan was shared prematurely with certain departments.

“We chose to communicate company-wide before we had the opportunity to collaborate more broadly on the implementation plan. We believe the benefits of being transparent – ​​even with a sub-optimal timeline and partial details – outweigh the risk of creating mistrust by having you hear the information at second hand,” the Tuesday post read.

GM said it will release more information late next month, as the company intends to spend the “next few weeks continuing to listen to your feedback so that we incorporate it into our implementation plans. “.