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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  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Mushroom

      Re: IBM

      True - and they are very good at it.

      1. seven of five

        Re: IBM

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

        1. Joseph Haig
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IBM

            "arbeit macht frei"

    2. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: IBM

      IBM- rapidly becoming the Detroit of the Computing Industry.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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!

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      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?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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

    3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: It's Baffling Me

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

      1. Nolveys Silver badge
        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?

      2. Blank Reg Silver badge

        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

      3. MaxPeck58

        Re: It's Baffling Me

        ... and have cover sheets! ;-)

      4. Jaybus

        Re: It's Baffling Me

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

  3. Steve Aubrey
    Thumb Down

    Improving morale? Eventually

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

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

      2. SundogUK

        Re: Improving morale? Eventually

        "Welcome to Trump's Amerika."

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

      3. AndrewDu

        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.

        1. rnturn

          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).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Improving morale? Eventually

        "The beatings will continue until moral improves"

      5. Big Wiggle

        Re: Improving morale? Eventually

        Meg Whitman started doing this at HPE several years ago.

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Improving morale? Eventually

      Beatings will continue until morale improves.

  4. inquisitive2014

    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.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      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.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      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.

      1. behemoth

        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.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. fajensen Silver badge
      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.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Taking the piss....

        Right then, detention for the whole class.

        1. Doctor Evil

          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.

      2. SundogUK

        Re: Taking the piss....

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

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    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 ???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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!

  7. jake Silver badge

    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!

    1. theblackhand

      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...

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      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.

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        2. AlJahom

          Re: telecommuting marketing staff

          Yeah... and when it comes time for them to action your request, they deny all recollection, or they deliver something that is a world away from what you wanted, however clearly you explained what you need.

          You soon realise that 80% of face to face conversations need to be preceded by, or backed up with, the same soulless email you would have sent in the first place, both for reference and for covering your own arse. Ultimately if you have to escalate to the miscreant's manager, you don't have a leg to stand on without an email containing evidence.

          My favourite for those special few is to send an email on a 2 minute delay, with a read receipt, then saunter over to their desk to discuss the request. "Hi could we just review the specs in the email I sent a moment ago? I need to walk you through it" and then watch their mouse finger hesitate as they realise they've been caught by the read receipt and if they click "no" you've seen them do it.

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: telecommuting marketing staff

        My experience and my colleagues is that part time telecommuting is the best. You have a good deal of latitude and still have some face time with colleagues and management.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: telecommuting marketing staff

        Our entire company is remote - we neither own nor rent office space anywhere in the world. We all work either from home or clients' offices when on projects.

        You are correct that it doesn't work for everyone, but we are a very specialized group and hire specifically for the skills to be able to work as independently as possible in our new hires. With hipchat, Skype for Business, and many other applications allowing us to work together we can all get shit all around the world (we have people based in the US, Canada, Mexico, Croatia, Serbia, Australia, NZ, and the UK).

        Wasting time and money to go sit in a cube in an office park is a complete deal breaker for me in terms of my career - I put up with being on client sites for a week or two at a time because they pay handsomely for that time and therefore use it wisely.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            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.

    3. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      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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