Leaders at the three Detroit automakers are encouraging employees who can to work from home in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The CEOs of General Motors (GM -0.38%) and Ford Motor Company (F -0.17%) sent letters to employees on Friday, asking those who can to work from home starting on Monday, March 16. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) sent a similar message to workers on Thursday. 

Ford's CEO Jim Hackett wrote that while the virus's effect on Ford and its employees has so far been limited, that may be about to change. 

"We need to be proactive to keep our people safe and help limit the spread of the virus," Hackett wrote. "In recent days, we've concluded the coronavirus issue has taken on a different dimension."

An aerial view of General Motors' headquarters in Detroit.

Image source: General Motors.

Ford's request to employees to work from home covers workers in nearly all regions of the world, including North America, South America, Europe, and most international markets. Only employees in China, where the outbreak appears to be abating, are excepted. 

Ford banned non-business-critical employee travel last week. 

GM CEO Mary Barra said that the company will adopt additional protective measures, including more extensive cleaning in work spaces. Teams that can't work remotely, such as manufacturing and certain sales employees, will have schedules adjusted to allow for measures to reduce virus-related risks.

Barra said the measures are also intended to help relieve burdens on strained public resources. 

FCA's CEO, Mike Manley, said that in addition to encouraging employees to work from home, the company is implementing new restrictions on outside visitors to FCA's offices and factory sites.