COVID-19 Update: Ford Is Embracing a Work-From-Home Culture

By Desiree Homer

How Dealers Feel About Remote Working

Ford shared that it would be embracing a work at home environment, at least for its salaried staff members, through 2021. Remote working environments became a necessity during the pandemic shelter-in-place orders. And having been forced to embrace a virtual work culture, many industries soon realized there could be substantial benefits to keep those options in place. Of course, there are some job descriptions that simply won’t work without on-site performance. But as dealers face a new normal in operations, there could be room and incentives to allowing some team members to work from their home offices.

Ford Sees Benefits in a Work-From-Home Alternative

For some of the Ford salary-based employees, staying at home means not risking continued virus exposure, and let’s face it, the ability to work in pajamas. Ford sees it as a method for reducing risk to staff and supporting an employee-driven, virtual culture. There’s a win-win embedded in this idea, and with the availability of enhanced communication outlets, for meetings and collaboration, there’s almost nothing impossible about embracing it.

Dealership Employees Remain Productive Behind the Keyboards

Some dealerships were forced to send employees home during the shutdowns. Depending on the department or job requirements, some staff members were furloughed altogether, while others were allowed to work from a home office. Dealers soon recognized a significant cost savings, in addition to the obvious health risk benefits. The administrative staff could perform their functions from a dealer-sponsored laptop or home-based pc. Sales professionals were sending emails, making calls, and engaging clients on social media. Human Resources departments were managing their accountability measures without leaving the dining room table. And many dealer owners were surprised to see just how productive everyone continued to be, despite the forced conditions.

A Healthy Combination of On-Site & Remote Working

As you carve out your leanest operational strategy for reopening success, you might be best suited with a little bit of both at-work and at-home opportunities. Your service lane and parts department staff will still be reporting, which may be part of your consideration process. You want sales and service to build a healthy working relationship with each other to maximize your customer leads. You also want to avoid fostering any resentment from those members of your teams who feel a work from home option is a perk not available to them. It could be that you rotate a schedule or stagger showroom floor duties in a way that keeps your team together and connected. Consider brainstorming with your HR managers to see what works best for your dealership strategy.

There are benefits and setbacks both, that may mean moving to an entirely virtual work environment impossible. But as Wayne Pastore and Tracy Fred, Cox Automotive Executives who sat down with Dave Cantin in a recent Dealer News Today podcast, say, “let’s return and reimagine.” They go on to point out and discuss the importance of aligning your overall strategies with your processes. And processes post-pandemic may include a few more online meetings in lieu of the conference room pow-wows of yesterday.