General Motors' top executives on Tuesday backed off from a plan to make salaried employees return to company offices for at least three days a week later this year.
The abrupt announcement last week had prompted backlash from workers who felt the change was misguided or being imposed too quickly.
GM told workers in a new message from its senior leadership team that it still wants "a more regular, in-person presence" but that it would not alter the "Work Appropriately" philosophy it adopted during the pandemic any sooner than 2023.
The new message did not refer to a specific number of days workers would have to report in person, saying that individual managers would make decisions on how, when and where their teams should collaborate. It also said the company would not mandate which days of the week employees work in person vs. remotely.
More information will be shared with employees at the end of October, the message said.
"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 said in a new statement to Automotive News. "We're spending the next few weeks listening to feedback and will work to incorporate it into our plans."
The message sent to workers Tuesday labeled in-person collaboration "a critical success factor" as GM transitions to building electric vehicles and competes against new challengers. It called the timing of the original announcement that was made late Friday — a strategy companies often are accused of using to bury bad news — "unfortunate" and "unintentional."
The Detroit Free Press reported the company's reversal earlier Tuesday.
GM's leadership team — CEO Mary Barra, President Mark Reuss and 12 other executives listed at the end of both messages — said it chose to send last week's message before specifics had been decided because word about a coming "evolution" to the "Work Appropriately" policy already had begun to spread within the company.