DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is again delaying its return-to-office plans amid the rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
The automaker most recently planned to bring back salaried employees with a new hybrid work model beginning in January. The company told employees Monday that it will begin phasing in certain groups of salaried workers in February, with the bulk of the work force not returning until March.
"The state of COVID-19 remains fluid, and despite the success of our ongoing safety protocols and increased vaccination rates, we are shifting the start date of the hybrid work model to March," Ford said in a statement. "We will begin with a pilot phase for select non-site-dependent employees in February and in March, we expect remaining team members to begin working flexibly between Ford campuses and remote options."
The new hybrid work model will allow workers to go into offices only when necessary. Ford said it was redesigning its office space to better accommodate this new way of working, with an emphasis on more collaborative spaces and team areas.
A spokeswoman told Automotive News that vaccine requirements for most salaried workers remain in place.
Meanwhile, General Motors said Monday it had not yet set a formal return to workplace date for salaried employees. In April, it put in place "Work Appropriately," a plan under which "teams have the flexibility to work where they can have the greatest impact."
GM said "in light of the Omicron variant, we are monitoring the situation closely and continue to engage with multiple internal and external stakeholders." GM has not yet mandated vaccines for its salaried employees.
Chrysler parent Stellantis, which is requiring all of its 14,000 U.S. salaried non-represented employees to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 5, said Monday the company was moving "to a flexible and agile work environment that enables our team to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."
Dubbed the "New Era of Agility" pilot program for North America, it is expected to begin in early 2022. Stellantis plans a hybrid working model, with employees spending about 70 percent of their time working remotely and 30 percent in offices.
Reuters contributed to this report.