Ford Reimagines a Post-COVID Workplace (September 12, 2020)

Ford Reimagines a Post-COVID Workplace (September 12, 2020)

Board Lens

Ford Reimagines a Post-COVID Workplace (September 12, 2020)

COVID-19 lockdowns transformed office work. Now, many businesses are asking what happens next. Is it time to bring employees back into the office and, if so, how? In recent NACD polling, 54 percent of directors cite changes in how work is done as one of their top three trends in the recovery period. Figuring out the right mix of remote and in-office work will be an important consideration. Ford Motor Co. asked its employees to collect their belongings from the offices they left months ago in anticipation of workplace remodeling. Ford’s new workforce vision includes a layout that accommodates a hybrid work model, where employees are no longer in the office five days a week. Ford is one of many companies, both large and small, rethinking the future of the workspace.

This transition is in response to a nationwide trend that suggests employees will prefer working from home at least part-time after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. According to Gartner, 82 percent of business leaders say they plan to give their employees the option to work remotely part-time following COVID-19, and 47 percent say they plan to give the option to do so full-time. 

Of course, this transition is not without its doubts and detractors. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is skeptical that the exchange of ideas cannot be replicated in a remote workplace. Furthermore, it isn’t clear that many employees would even want to work from home full time: Only 12 percent of those surveyed by Gensler Research Institute say that’s the future of work they want. 

Implications for Boards 

Human capital oversight is an important part of strategy and an area where the board must focus more time and attention than before as recovery plans start. An aspect of that will be getting the right mix of remote and in-person work that begets optimal employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity. Boards should know how management is engaging with its employees and other stakeholders in determining what makes the most sense for the organization. 

Key Questions Directors Should Ask

NACD Resources:

Expert Insights: Human Capital and Talent Oversight will be a valuable session at the Virtual NACD Summit 2020 that highlights many considerations for human capital strategy. Restarting Business During COVID-19 is a summary of the Advisory Council NACD recently convened to discuss reopening. This NACD survey explores how boards are thinking about the future of business and the workforce.