New York CNN Business  — 

Honda (HMC) appears to be taking an unusual approach to cross-functional staff training. Managers are ordering accountants to abandon their spreadsheets and step up to the assembly line — temporarily, at least, according to a report.

Because of coronavirus-related staff shortages, Honda is asking office workers at its Maryville, Ohio, plant to move to the production line, local radio station WOSU reports.

Honda did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

According WOSU, a Honda manager said in an email to staff that the pandemic has forced many of the company’s employees to take a leave of absence, and “the $600 unemployment [benefit] is making it difficult for our contingent staffing agencies to fill orders.”

Citing low inventory, the email says Honda is temporarily shifting staff from purchasing, accounting and other departments to fill vacant assembly positions until at least mid-August. CNN couldn’t independently verify the email.

“They took volunteers first, but my understanding was they didn’t receive many volunteers for this activity, so then they made it mandatory,” one worker told WOSU.

Another worker expressed fear that they would be exposed to Covid-19 on the factory floor, after having worked from home for most of the pandemic. “I was not very happy about [being moved] because I’ve tried really hard to socially distance and keep away from other people during this.”

It’s already been a tough year for Honda. In May, the company announced a 14.6% decline in quarterly sales revenue compared with the same period the previous year.

The automaker also paused production for two months at all US plants in March in response to the pandemic.