Ford turns 8,000 staff loose with deal to increase mobility

Click to follow

Ford has decided to hang up on good old-fashioned, fixed-line telephones, replacing office phones with the latest mobile technology that crosses cell phones with walkie-talkies.

Ford has decided to hang up on good old-fashioned, fixed-line telephones, replacing office phones with the latest mobile technology that crosses cell phones with walkie-talkies.

The car maker has decided that 8,000 white-collar staff who work on product development projects should get out from under the piles of paper on their desks and spend more time in the company's production plants.

To encourage them to spend less time in the office their fixed lines are being ripped out and they are being given shiny new mobile phones that also work like walkie-talkies, allowing them to communicate with groups of colleagues instead of just one person at a time.

Sprint, the US telecoms group supplying Ford with the new devices, said: "By shedding their desk phones, Ford employees can be more creative, interactive and effective by becoming more mobile." Howard Janzen, Sprint's president of business solutions, said: "These wirelessly empowered employees will be able to spend more productive time with the right people and in the right places rather than behind a desk."

A spokeswoman for Ford said the devices would mean 8,000 workers would be "freed from their desks". However, there has been rising concern about the health implications of increased usage of mobile phones. But the spokeswoman said there was not a "big concern" with this initiative. "I think we see a lot of cell phone usage from people personally. We are always concerned about the safety of employees."

The Sprint devices use so-called "push and talk" technology, allowing users to call a number of colleagues at the same time and connect to them straight away. By pushing a button and then talking, each person can take turns to talk. Releasing the button allows them to hear what each of the other users says.

The devices are designed for short and spontaneous "get in, get out" conversations. Ford wants its product development staff to spend more time on the production floors. Mr Janzen said: "We are bringing new speed, spontaneity and interaction to the Ford workplace wherever it may be, and eliminating tethers to the traditional office phone."

Comments