At GM, blue and white collar give way to remote and on-site

21 April 2021 - 08:39 By Reuters
The General Motors World Headquarters in Detroit, US. File photo
The General Motors World Headquarters in Detroit, US. File photo
Image: Linda Parton

General Motors Co on Tuesday outlined plans to allow remote work after the pandemic, in part to cast a wider net for recruiting programmers, marketers and other talent needed for its connected electric vehicle strategy.

"The future of jobs will not be a one-size fits all approach," the automaker said in a statement, explaining its "Work Appropriately" program to cover 155,000 employees worldwide.

Instead, many employees will be allowed to keep working remotely, coming to an office as needed, as long as their tasks are not tied to assembly lines or on-site equipment.

That would allow GM to recruit a programmer who lives in Boston without requiring that employee to move, GM global talent acquisition director Cyril George said on a video conference.

In North America, GM has already sought to expand its recruiting footprint beyond its Detroit area base by setting up "innovation centres" for employees in technical and marketing fields in Austin in Texas, Chandler in Arizona and Roswell in Georgia.

GM's more flexible approach to office attendance reflects a broader rethinking of traditional workplace practices across industries and accelerated by the pandemic.

For Detroit automakers, an archaic class system of "blue collar" manufacturing workers and "white collar" salaried employees is giving way to a new distinction: Those who must work on-site  and those who can do their jobs remotely.

Technology adopted during the Covid-19 pandemic has expanded the universe of GM employees who can work from a distance.

Members of the team that developed the GMC Hummer EV were able to remotely monitor testing of a prototype at the company's Milford, Michigan test track, said Jeff Massimilla, executive director of connected customer and mobility solutions.

GM officials said the new workplace approach is not aimed at shrinking the automaker's office space, and declined to say what cost impact flexible work policies could have.