American automakers General Motors and Ford Motor stated on Friday they will have majority of their white-collar workforce operating remotely as of Monday to protect against the increase of the coronavirus.
GM CEO Mary Barra informed workers on Friday the automaker is asking all workers and contract workers to work remotely, adding that the company has faced crises before.
“For many of us, it’s our first experience of this type. But disruption and trying circumstances are nothing new to us,” she stated in an email.
Barra stated the remote-work policy applied worldwide excluding China, which has existing protocols in place. “Our IT tools and systems have been extensively stress-tested; it’s important that we leverage them to continue delivering,” she stated.
Ford will move most of its global white-collar workforce outside China, where recovery has started, to working remotely, CEO James Hackett stated in an email to workers.
“In recent days … we’ve concluded the coronavirus issue has taken on a different dimension – and we need to be proactive to keep our people safe and help limit the expansion of the virus in the communities where we live and work,” he stated.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is also speeding up its deployment of remote work for white-collar workers beyond the most coronavirus affected nations such as China, South Korea, Japan and Italy, CEO Mike Manley said in a letter to workers observed by Reuters on Friday.
Ford’s Hackett informed workers that in the event a worker tests positive for the virus they will be told to seek medical attention and self quarantine at home. The automaker will identify others who may have been in contact with that individual and tell them to seek medical attention and self quarantine for 14 days.
He added Ford will shut down any facility exposed to a confirmed case, and a spokeswoman confirmed that such strategy includes manufacturing plants.
However, Ford has observed “limited” impact to its worldwide operations because of the epidemic, with some workers testing positive for the virus in China and Germany but until now in the United States, spokesman Mark Truby stated.
Ford has not lost any vehicle production apart from China and it is taking steps to keep its plants operating. However, some parts of the American market have seen customer traffic at dealers damaged by the outbreak.
Fears over the expansion of the virus led hourly workers at Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’s minivan assembly plant located in Windsor, Ontario, to stop working for a time.
The FCA workers had been worried about possible exposure to the virus through secondary contact, but were ultimately convinced there was no risk and they returned to work Friday afternoon after 24 hours.
Coronavirus has so far infected more than 157,000 people and killed more than 5,830 people worldwide.