back to article Big blues: IBM's remote-worker crackdown is company-wide, including its engineers

IBM is forcing more than just its US marketing staff to move to a handful of regional hubs. The crackdown on remote workers and smaller offices also hits engineers and other staffers in America and Europe. Following The Register's exclusive report that Big Blue will demand marketers work at one of six "strategic" US locations …

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Mushroom

Re: IBM

True - and they are very good at it.

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Re: IBM

8 hours to invoke goodwin´s law? Pretty quick for a thread about working from home...

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Trollface

Re: IBM

8 hours to invoke goodwin´s law? Pretty quick for a thread about working from home...

The Nazis wouldn't have let you work from home.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IBM

"arbeit macht frei"

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Meh

Re: IBM

IBM- rapidly becoming the Detroit of the Computing Industry.

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Anonymous Coward

It's Baffling Me

"a way to improve the working environment and office culture"

and just forget about technology R&D altogether!

Even their lack-luster "Quantum Cloud" offering was a fairly sad joke of a simplex service of little use. IBM/GS is basically a service clone of EDS but without anything useful inside it. I fully expect Watson to sell ice cream out of a fancy truck very soon. THIS is how you "lead the way in making new jobs in Trump's America." Everyone just shift one job over to the left and viola; new jobs! Go USandA! I BM, U BM, we all BM for IBM!

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Re: It's Baffling Me

"a way to improve the working environment and office culture"

and just forget about technology R&D altogether!

Who told you they have any of that left?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's Baffling Me

"I fully expect Watson to sell ice cream out of a fancy truck very soon. "

You're not far off... https://www.fastcompany.com/3027446/tech-forecast/ibms-watson-food-truck-brings-the-supercomputer-to-the-kitchen

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Re: It's Baffling Me

Well, the important thing here is that the time sheets will be filled out properly.

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Childcatcher

Re: It's Baffling Me

Hello, allthecoolnamesweretaken. What's happening? Uh… we have sort of a problem here. Yeah. You apparently didn't put one of the new cover sheets on your time sheet. Mmmm...yeah, we're putting cover sheets on all of the time sheets before they go out now. Did you see the memo about this? If you could just go ahead and make sure you do that from now on, that will be great. And Uh, I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo Mmmm, Ok?

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Re: It's Baffling Me

Like that's going to help. Apparently, IBM isn't very good any paying people

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/cost-to-fix-phoenix-pay-system-25m-and-rising-official-1.3042081

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Re: It's Baffling Me

... and have cover sheets! ;-)

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Re: It's Baffling Me

And that the new coversheets go on all of the TPS reports before they go out.

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Thumb Down

Improving morale? Eventually

Maybe in a decade or two. Once anybody who knew one of the "left behind" has retired themselves.

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FAIL

Re: Improving morale? Eventually

I'm afraid you don't understand the NewCorporatespeak. By "Improving Morale" the corporate fat-asses mean raising their morale, by "releasing" workers, closing down shops, cutting "unnecessary" expenses...all to artificially (and temporarily) increase the share price so they can cash out.

Welcome to Trump's Amerika.

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Re: Improving morale? Eventually

I agree with you up to your last statement which is totally irrelevant because this was most probably thought up under Obama.

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Re: Improving morale? Eventually

"Welcome to Trump's Amerika."

Really? And nobody ever did this kind of thing before Trump was President? Idiot.

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Re: Improving morale? Eventually

Actually Trump was complaining loudly about this sort of thing all through his campaign, and promises to "do something" about it. Whether he can or not, (I think not, personally), remains to be seen. It's probably one of the main reasons he was elected.

But don't let that get in the way of your knee-jerk.

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Re: Improving morale? Eventually

Beatings will continue until morale improves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Improving morale? Eventually

"The beatings will continue until moral improves"

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Re: Improving morale? Eventually

Meg Whitman started doing this at HPE several years ago.

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Well, so far...

"Trump was complaining loudly about this sort of thing all through his campaign, and promises to 'do something' about it."

...Trump has been moving in a 180 degree opposite direction from many, if not most, of the promises he made while campaigning. Except for demonizing anything and everything Muslim; he's been all over that.

That said, let's leave politics out of the discussion... IBM has been at war with its work force going back even farther than even the Obama administration; I saw it happening while an IBM contractor (now former IBM contractor).

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Backflip

I left IBM just over 5 years ago after a 14 year career.

When I worked there IBM actively promoted remote working as a way of saving money on real estate costs and boasted about the high ratio of workers to office space. They introduced a whole lot of policies that enabled remote working and discouraged office based working with hot-desking policies that removed sense of community and collaboration that used to be generated by ad hoc encounters and meetings.

A lot us moved out of the office due to these policies - IBM then stood for "I'm By Myself". While it is true that a lot of dedicated folks contributed a lot while working remotely - a friend who was a single mother comes to mind - there were a lot of people who took advantage of the lax oversight from managers who were located thousands of miles away.

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Re: Backflip

I'm sure the active promotion of remote working will be featuring in redundancy claims as the policy is "extended to IBM's operations in Europe". Whereas you may be able to cheaply shed workers in the US with this tactic it's going to be rather more expensive on this side of the pond.

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Re: Backflip

Just had my two year anniversary of freedom,.... and looking at this, I'm so glad. There were just two of us performing the same role, Security and Compliance for UK specific accounts, me in the Midlands, and my colleague in Yorkshire, but we looked after servers based at Warwick and Portsmouth. No idea which office they'd have tried to move us to,.... my closest office was Nottingham, his Thorpe Park, our manager was in Warwick.

I might venture that trying to force this initiative in the UK would be considered constructive dismissal, IBM will surely have to allow people to choose their nearest office. In my previous situation me being at Notts, and my colleague being in Leeds would add absolutely no value however, as we just wouldn't have any reason to talk to the IBMers on adjacent hotdesks.

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Re: Backflip

I laughed a little when reading your comment about having your "two year anniversary of freedom". I feel exactly the same way. In January I celebrated my four year anniversary of freedom :). I couldn't be happier that I finally, after 12 years, left the dying dinosaur. Now I work for a company that cares about it's employees. We have no eClaim, no report-to-chains spanning five pages, no PBC ratings and no useless middle management.

But is this really something new? Already when I worked for IBM we used to talk about IBM as "I've Been Moved". IBM has never ever really cared about it's work force. It's just a numbers game for the executives. It doesn't matter that the work force consists of actual people with feelings and lives outside of IBM. The only thing that counts are the stock owners and the stock price.

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Anonymous Coward

Taking the piss....

While working at NetApp we had a Channel Manager who "worked from home" during each school holiday.

You could not get her on the phone for an entire week.

Turns out she was babysitting her own children, plus half of the Office and the children of her friend who worked at NetApp competitor Nimble.

It's that kind of behaviour that prompts employers to reign in staff that take the piss.

In this particular case though - it was a win-win-win situation. At least she couldn't do any more damage in front of partners during that time.

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Coat

Re: Taking the piss....

It's that kind of behaviour that prompts employers to reign in staff that take the piss.

Eh? No, that is Exactly what NEVER, EVER, happens: Instead of dealing with the problem individuals, those few people who does take the piss are used as the excuse to put the screws onto Everyone, including all the reasonable people who do NOT take the piss. Everyone who ever worked has had at least several experiences with this.

Maybe this a leftover from the time when employees were "hands"?

This cowardly behaviour from "leadership" is behind "the immigration problem" too, BTW.

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Headmaster

Re: Taking the piss....

Right then, detention for the whole class.

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Re: Taking the piss....

? I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Taking the piss....

"? I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say here."

Congratulations! We'll get some people under you right away!

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Re: Taking the piss....

I think you're on to something here. It could lead to absolutely revolutionary developments. I mean, without exactly this kind of management response, Pitcairn Island wouldn't have been discovered for many more years.

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Anonymous Coward

What ever happened to technology

In a world of ever shrinking salaries, flexible working was a meaningful perk to many.

I worked at IBM near the millennium, it was a fun flexible vibrant place to work then.

And Govt / Tech execs claim they don't know why more folk don't want to work in IT.

....WTF ???

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What ever happened to technology

'I worked at IBM near the millennium, it was a fun flexible vibrant place to work then.'

So was Hewlett Packard at that time, and look where they are now!

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So IBM has come to the same conclusion that I did about ten years ago.

That being that working "in the cloud", also known as "centralized computing", also known as "telecommuting" (as in teletype), is, like, totally 1950s technology.

So we can finally get off the cloud bandwagon, right? It's obviously a failed technology if even IBM can't make it work internally!

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Re: So IBM has come to the same conclusion that I did about ten years ago.

Maybe IBM could make things work in the past - now they're more interested in giving the task to someone cheaper in the hope that things might work in the short term and that the customers will pay them to not break things (i.e do nothing at all with no people) in the long term.

Still, they can always bask in the glory of what they did 15+ yeas ago right? Oh - and Watson...

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Re: So IBM has come to the same conclusion that I did about ten years ago.

So Itsy Bitsy Morons are incompetent. Where I work there is a push to have as much staff telework part time where possible. Morale and productivity are quite good.

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Anonymous Coward

telecommuting marketing staff

Telecommuting in the longer term is not productive - I reckon working about 50% of capacity.

Managers of people cannot telecommute, and staff that fall in to the 'require management' category cannot either.

Marketing needs managed...so no.... i am surprised they let them do it in the first place.

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

Some people can handle it, some can't. I've never had a problem with it, and had management that I never met that managed quite effectively. There have to be clear goals and expectations. People can goof off in a big office just as easily. I've seen people in an office who take a half hour on a restroom break. One minute in the restroom, 29 minutes stopping at half a dozen offices/cubicles along the way.

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

Not everyone's personality is suited to Telecommuting. I'm not sure I'd be so good at it, but others thrive on it.

If telecommuters are slacking off when at home, it's their managers who are failing in their jobs to manage their staff.

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

I've seen people in an office who take a half hour on a restroom break. One minute in the restroom, 29 minutes stopping at half a dozen offices/cubicles along the way

(Slightly playing devil's advocate here...) Some people just need face-to-face contact with colleagues, rather than IMs, Emails, etc. On a recent management course, we told encouraged to get off our butts and go and talk to people rather than just send soulless emails.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: telecommuting marketing staff

The reality is everyone needs a bit of both. The exact proportion depends on the individual and the type of job you're doing. When I was a programmer, and worked in an office, most of the time I was in a world of my own with my headphones on, and could be sitting in a shed in a field and it would have made no difference (as long as the shed had computers and electricity). But it was very useful to be able to get up and walk to someone else's desk to ask a question. Actually, that was at IBM

Now I work for a small company whose entire UK workforce works remotely. But we do meet up. It has to be done. When I was at IBM I used to try and do this. However, despite living in London, if I turned up at South Bank after 6AM there were no seats left. People who lived far away didn't want to come because they'd have to pay a fortune for travel out of their own pockets, because IBM refused to pay for any "unnecessary" business travel.

IBM seems to thrive on making bad headlines for itself at the moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: telecommuting marketing staff

If telecommuters are slacking off when at home, it's their managers who are failing in their jobs to manage their staff

When I was telecommuting, I would usually get a days work done in about 3 hours and then I would slack off to not give the game away. Getting the work done and be out of there early to do interesting things is very motivating.

What managers do not like about telecommuters is the nagging suspicion that their "management" or maybe rather interference, bullshit meetings, annoying colleagues, that good work is only rewarded with more work reduces motivation and efficiency to a significant degree, so, maybe if they were not there, the business would perform much better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: telecommuting marketing staff

My experience is similar. Telecommuting makes me more productive in less time. It's a net benefit for everyone, but some people seem to think that because I'm not spending hours warming a seat in some expensive building, then I'm not working.

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Gimp

Re: telecommuting marketing staff

I hate working remotely! I use it when I need British Gas out for example but I just don't really have the discipline required to work remotely. When you're at home you're surrounded by your "toys", consoles, TV, your own computing and electronics projects and of course the fridge and snack cupboard, I get so distracted it takes an incredible amount of will-power to stay focused. I guess I just need to be in the "battary farm" with a manager on the prowl to keep me on track, a bit of in-person domination I guess! Ha ha!

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Unhappy

Re: telecommuting marketing staff

When you're at home ... the fridge and snack cupboard

That's my big downfall with working from home: The call of food.

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

I worked from home, and the work was the work, Security non-compliances were logged via automated tools and manual checks, and assigned deadlines, and tracked. Similarly as OS patches were released, these were tracked in the same database. We had to remediate the non-compliances within the deadlines, and apply the patches within the deadlines, and provide evidence (screenshots, or fresh fresh report showing compliance) and get the tracking records closed. There was no '50%', everything was measured and proof needed for every step, because apart from internal standards, we met ISO 9001, because our customers included banks and govt departments.

Every process can have such metrics. Hell, this is IBM we are talking about, using LEAN, and GDF methodologies, every step of everything was measured, then at the end of the year comes the PBC process, where we had to justify our performance in several areas and provide evidence, so relied on the data being captured to demonstrate our effectiveness, because if you didn't, you got an unsatisfactory rating, and made the short list for the next skills rebalancing exercise.

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

I work from home most of the time, and whilst I agree that it doesn't suit everyone I can definitely say I get more done.

In fact, the reason I get to work from home so much is that I get a *lot* more done than I do in the office (which can be a double-edged sword though - occupational burn out and all that).

These days I look at a day in the office as a 'day-off' (in comparison).

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Re: telecommuting marketing staff

I have the same set up at home as I do at work - well, better from a hardware standpoint. If I'm doing development it's nice to be free from random distractions. But I do spend a fair amount of time extracting requirements and information from others, and that goes better face-to-face.

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