GM delays timeline on employees returning to the office amid backlash

General Motors Co. executives are delaying the timeline for bringing white-collar workers back to the office after backlash from a decision released last week requiring employees to return to in-person work three days a week, according to a Tuesday memo.

"We acknowledge that the timing of the message, late on a Friday afternoon, was unfortunate. It was also unintentional," the automaker's top executives, including CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss, wrote in the memo obtained by The Detroit News.

GM on Friday told employees it would require them to return to the office three days a week later this year. That decision came after GM last year introduced a "Work Appropriately" model that gave GM teams the flexibility to work from home, a lab, an office, or wherever they can do their best work.

In Tuesday's memo, executives said the company now will not make any changes to the "Work Appropriately" model before the first quarter of 2023. GM will not mandate which days employees go to the office, the executives wrote.

"As we move to a more regular in-person work cycle, our plan is to collaboratively design the solution that best balances the needs of the enterprise with the needs of employees," GM spokesperson Maria Raynal said in a statement. "We're spending the next few weeks listening to feedback and will work to incorporate it into our plans."

Executives explained in the memo that the decision to adapt the model had been discussed earlier last week at a senior leader meeting and some information was shared to some parts of the company "prematurely."

"So, we elected to communicate enterprise wide before we had the opportunity to collaborate more broadly on the implementation plan," they wrote. "We believe the benefits of being transparent — even with suboptimal timing and partial details — outweighed the risk of creating mistrust by having you hear the information second hand."

The company plans to provide employees with more information at the end of October, according to the memo: "Between now and then, we continue to ask for constructive dialogue about our culture, collaboration, speed and innovation. We commit to listen."

The Detroit Free Press reported on the memo earlier Tuesday.

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This story was originally published September 27, 2022 5:02 PM.

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