When the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world in early 2020, auto-industry staff were working from home and Jean Marc Leclerc, CEO of Honda Canada, wrestled with how he would lead from afar.
“Like so many others, I waited for the world to return to normal just so I could get back to being within the office five days per week. In spite of everything, that’s where we’re best and the way we construct success, right?” he wrote in a recent LinkedIn post.
Because the pandemic maintained its stranglehold on day-to-day business, LeClerc realized that being within the office wasn’t enough to make him feel connected. He had to vary as a frontrunner.
“Probably the most profound lessons for me is in regards to the importance of balancing work and life,” Leclerc wrote. “I feel some leaders overlook the undeniable fact that pre-pandemic work styles were removed from perfect. Returning to how things were is a comforting tactic that ignores every thing we learned.”
Honda has found what Leclerc calls “our sweet spot.” The schedule has about 25 per cent of the corporate’s salaried employees — there are about 1,000 at its Markham, Ont., head office — eligible to work from home up to 3 days per week.
Leclerc now makes it some extent to attach with people when he’s within the office.
“This has played a giant part in helping me feel more connected,” he said.
A TACTIC TO TAP TALENT
Honda is among the many automakers interviewed by Automotive News Canada that sees advantages for hybrid work schedules for salaried employees.
Distant work opportunities have allowed Stellantis Canada to expand its recruiting efforts across the country and attract candidates who won’t have considered the Windsor, Ont.,-based automaker.
“Now we have had the chance to rent employees from different parts of the country to fill positions traditionally based in Windsor,” said Jacqueline Oliva, Stellantis Canada’s vice-president of human resources.
Under what Stellantis calls “the Latest Era of Agility,” the corporate anticipates those employees mixing distant and in-office work to average 70 per cent distant working time and 30 per cent on-site. At the peak of the pandemic, about 90 per cent of Canadian salaried employees worked from home. Since then, 61 per cent are back within the office.
“The 70-30 mix is an overall objective and provides our team opportunities to do their work where they’re best,” Oliva said. Some employees have needed to work on-site full time due to nature of their job, including those that work in research and development, in addition to salaried staff at plants, she said.
Feedback from an internal survey found that 84 per cent of employees throughout North America prefer distant work or a mix in the longer term, Oliva said, and 74 per cent say distant work affords more flexibility.
“The Latest Era of Agility enables and supports worker flexibility, with employees coming on-site to create, connect or have fun with their teams.”
FORD’S FUTURE OF WORK: HYBRID
Ford Canada developed a Way forward for Work document in 2021, stemming from a June 2020 worker survey that found 95 per cent of employees preferred a combination of distant and in-office work when the pandemic ended.
Ford has adopted a set of world standards to follow because it adapts to a hybrid work model, “mixing distant and physical work arrangements for team members who’re nonplace-dependent,” based on the policy.
The corporate lets leaders customize their on-site collaboration strategy to realize their distinct business goals, said Ford spokeswoman Kerri Stoakley.
“How we work will all the time be evolving, but Ford expects to keep up a hybrid work model for those jobs that usually are not site-dependent going forward.”
The hybrid work model could apply to about 1,800 positions throughout Canada, Ford said.
The Way forward for Work document said that the corporate has been capable of attract and retain top talent with the hybrid approach and that it advantages from higher productivity and efficiencies.
Ford also has invested in online worker networking tools, reminiscent of Webex, Yammer and Bluescape.
AT GM, ‘FLEXIBLE SOLUTIONS’
At GM Canada, eligible salaried employees pivoted Jan. 30 to working three days per week on-site, said spokeswoman Maria Raynal. While she didn’t have a precise number, she said the hybrid arrangement applies to hundreds of employees in Canada and america.
Surveys found that almost all GM employees want flexible arrangements that mix on- and off-site work.
The brand new workplace approach doesn’t affect employees whose roles are fully on-site or designated as distant.
“We’re collaboratively designing flexible solutions that best balance the needs of the enterprise with the needs of employees,” Raynal said.
At Hyundai Canada, CEO Don Romano said the corporate this 12 months implemented a return-to-office schedule of three in-person days per week. Hyundai will proceed recognizing that flexibility and work-life balance are essential elements that result in worker job satisfaction, he said.
This arrangement applies to about 200 head-office employees based in Markham and 50 field staff working in stores.
“We consider that is a crucial step to boost the teamwork essential to handle the growing challenges our industry is facing as a result of the uncertain economic outlook, the transition to electrification and the necessity to support our customers, dealers and field organization,” Romano wrote in an email to Automotive News Canada.
“Equally vital is the necessity to support the event of our employees through one-on-one mentoring, coaching and counseling to assist them advance of their careers, which requires a specific amount of physical presence and collaboration within the office.”