GM ends 'work appropriately' policy with mandatory 3 days in office

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General Motors Co. is calling workers back to the office, ending chief executive Mary Barra’s “work appropriately” policy that gave people flexibility to stay home during the OVID-19 pandemic.

Barra sent a memo to staff Dec. 5 saying employees must commute into GM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week if they live within 50 miles of a GM office, a spokesperson confirmed. Some top executives live out of state and it will be up to Barra if they have to go in to their offices, the spokesperson said.

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“Effective Jan. 8, 2024, we are providing more clarity on our three-day a week return to office policy,” GM said in a statement. “Hybrid employees need to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday in order to meet critical business needs and retain company culture.”

Companies have struggled to get workers to voluntarily return to the office. Last year, GM mandated people go back in three days a week, but pushback from staff convinced management to allow departments to determine their own policies, with some allowing workers to maintain remote options.

The new policy came up Dec. 6 at an internal town hall meeting at the company’s engineering centre north of Detroit. GM has a “hoteling” model where people reserve a workspace instead of having a permanent desk. Workers asked Barra at the meeting whether there would be enough desks or cafeteria space if everyone came back on the same days. Barra told them that GM’s facilities staff would work it out, according to two people who watched the presentation.

More big employers have tightened the screws by requiring more days on site, or removing the freedom to choose which days people can stay remote. Among companies with some sort of hybrid-work plan, three days in the office is the most common, according to an index of more than 5,500 firms maintained by Scoop Technologies, a flex-work adviser.

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Rival Ford Motor Co. still maintains a flexible hybrid policy that doesn’t require workers to come to the office for a specific number of days a week. They only need to come to the office for group meetings.

— With assistance from Matthew Boyle and Keith Naughton.

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