A new Forbes article references CoreNet Global’s survey results on the return to work at the office as we continue to monitor, track and inform. And we found a story on the CBS television program 60 Minutes about the return to work on the manufacturing side interesting, too.

This weekend, showed how automakers Ford and GM not only transformed their factories to make supplies for the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, they are using the experience to learn how the manufacturing workplace will look once normal life returns.

If it ever will be normal again. 

“I have heard others refer to it as ‘the new abnormal’”, said Mary Barra, CEO of GM. GM invested in a Seattle company that makes ventilators and quickly converted a Kokomo, Indiana plan that made electric car components into a ventilator factory.  “We are learning lessons that will apply.” 

GM went from discussing the feasibility to manufacturing ventilators with a start up in Seattle, to actually producing them in 3 weeks, owing in part to the  “miracle work” of the global supply and purchasing team. But more, GM said that the Kokomo plant is a beta site, where they are learning how to work safely. All employees for example, will have their temperature taken before entering the work site. Mary Barra, CEO of GM said that will be standard, and a “very important part of the protocol.”
At the Ford plant, where they are now making supplies including ventilators, company Executive Chairman Bill Ford demonstrated work stations that have newly installed plastic barriers to ensure social distancing. And, employees wear watches that buzz if they become within six feet of someone else. And if the other person is also wearing, the watch, it  could identify if someone had tested positive for COVID-19. 

They did not address the privacy concerns with such an innovation. We are sure that with each solution, there are an equal or greater number of questions that will need to be addressed. But these are giant steps forward for two American industrial giants.