While automakers move heaven and earth to get their manufacturing operations safely up and running and their dealers selling vehicles again, the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic may have also reconfigured the way companies think about recruiting and retaining employees, says the executive who leads Toyota's manufacturing and human resources in North America.
Chris Reynolds, chief administrative officer, manufacturing and corporate resources for Toyota Motor North America, says the way employees have shown this spring that they can work remotely will reduce geographic limits on recruiting and hiring.
"If we're now working from home and can do things virtually, do I care whether you're in Plano, Texas, or Detroit, Mich.? I may not, depending on the job, as long as you can get to Plano periodically to meet with your team," Reynolds told Automotive News Publisher Jason Stein last week as part of the "Congress Conversations" series.
"I think there's a lot of potential here, where we can see, not just for Toyota but for many other companies, a broadening of the geographic footprint of our talent, which means more talent, which I think also means better talent. I'm actually looking forward to the upside, which is, I may have access to more talent than I did."
In the 45-minute conversation, Reynolds, a 2019 Automotive News All-Star and Detroit native, spoke at length about Toyota's efforts to keep its work force safe as it returns to the production line, research labs and offices after a 10- week or longer absence.
"Our processes have really changed," Reynolds said. "You may not recognize the plants if you walked in the day before we shut down to today."
He said work on how best to safely reopen began shortly after Toyota's plants suspended production, and the process to implement new safety procedures has been deliberate and comprehensive.