Starting Monday Ford is instructing much of its global workforce – except those in business-critical roles that cannot be done away from Ford facilities – to work remotely until further notice. It says the action will additionally help reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus while ‘maximising the health of our business’.

In a letter from CEO Jim Hackett to employees, Hackett noted the acceleration of the public health crisis this week. “Thankfully, the effect so far on Ford employees has been very limited. In recent days, though, we’ve concluded the coronavirus issue has taken on a different dimension – and we need to be proactive to keep our people safe and help limit the spread of the virus in the communities where we live and work,” he said.

“To that end, beginning Monday, March 16, we are announcing that much of our Ford workforce, including agency and purchased service people, in North America, South America, Europe and International Markets Group, will be asked to work remotely until further notice. Exceptions will be only for roles that are 1) business-critical and 2) cannot be done effectively outside a Ford location – such as those working in manufacturing facilities, parts distribution centers and certain sales positions.”

Somewhat ironically, given where the coronavirus crisis started, the new diktat doesn’t apply to China. The letter says: “Since the coronavirus issue is rapidly diminishing in China and our team there already has begun to return to work, this action does not apply to our team in China.”