GM shifts course, will call workers back to office

GM employees who have been working remotely due to the pandemic will be required to return to the office at least three days a week, starting later this year, the automaker confirmed Friday.

An internal message to employees, first obtained by Automotive News and confirmed by GM on Friday, attributed the shift in GM’s Work Appropriately policy to the progress made against the pandemic, saying “the COVID-19 situation has dramatically improved.”

“As the COVID landscape has dramatically improved, and as we accelerate our transformation and enter a rapid launch cycle, we are evolving Work Appropriately to drive the best collaboration, enterprise mindset and impact. Effective later this year, employees who transitioned to working remotely some or all of the time during the pandemic will pivot to a more regular in-person work cycle, and they will now be expected to work three days on-campus each week,” GM spokesperson Maria Raynal said in a statement via email Friday. “We’re committed to maintaining flexibility to ensure our employees can attend to personal commitments, and we will share details with them in the coming weeks.”

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According to an article in Crain’s Detroit business, GM’s message to employees was attributed to “the senior leadership team,” listing CEO Mary Barra, President Mark Reuss and 12 other top executives. The message, which also cited the desire to encourage more collaboration moving forward did not say specifically when the new policy would take effect.

On April 20, 2021, GM laid forth a new philosophy that signaled a culture shift for the 113-year-old automaker called Work Appropriately.

Work Appropriately gave many salaried employees flexibility to work wherever they could best do their job. GM viewed it as a hiring and retention tool because GM has more access to talent by not requiring all its employees to move to Michigan or make daily commutes.

GM’s new return-to-office plan couldn’t come fast enough for the Renaissance Center. The site of GM’s headquarters effectively became a ghost town when COVID-19 sent office workers packing to work from home. Among them: roughly 5,000 GM employees.

GM has been unable to provide any figures on how many employees show up to RenCen offices daily because Work Appropriately means the number fluctuates daily.

Without them, it was quite quiet. Back in June, it was questioned about what was going to happen to the RenCen because of how empty it became, plus GM owns part of the building.

Since the pandemic, RenCen lost Deloitte LLP as a tenant, and Blue Cross Blue Shield moved about 50 of its 2,000 workers to a smaller office in Detroit.

Free Press staff writer Jamie Lareau contributed.

Free Press staff writer JC Reindl contributed.

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