back to article IBM memo to staff: Our CEO Ginni is visiting so please 'act normally!'

Marketing folk in IBM's offices in Austin, Texas, were treated to a visit by CEO Ginni Rometty this week – but not before they were handed a list of things not to do in her presence, including taking selfies or using the loo at the same time. Rometty, also Big Blue's president and chairman as well as chief exec, dropped by the …

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          1. GIRZiM
            Devil

            Re: Guess who people go to when they want something done

            Guess which of you is (working) smarter.

          2. Ol' Grumpy
            Joke

            Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

            "Guess who people go to when they want something done."

            Him? ;-)

      1. src

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        If you have enough time to keep your desk clean you don't have enough work to do.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        "A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"

        An empty desk is the sign of an empty head.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        "A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind"

        It's also the sign of work not being done.

      4. spold Bronze badge

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        I worked at IBM Hursley Park many years ago - the (physical) security staff would do a walk-around every night through every office and desk - anything looking or marked confidential would be removed and you received a red sticker on your desk. Anything marked higher than confidential was an immediate investigated offence. Receive three+ red stickers in a year and your personal year-end evaluation (1-5) was docked a point.

        .

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

          Worked at a place where unsecured laptops were removed at any time of the day but no note was left; after the panic and wasted time obtaining authorisation from their manager and then retrieving it from security no-one did it twice.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      Hmmm, I wonder how much time they allocate in their day to maintain the clean desk policy? An hour? Two? Three? All day? ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        At my site, they have someone go around checking twice a day to see if desks are in use and if they are 'clean.' As part of the Agile push we got asked why we failed to have a 'wall' of work up - responded with "Well we did but we aren't allowed to put anything up on walls or partitions." We were 'failed' on meeting Agile maturity level...

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      When I worked at places that had "clean desk" policies, the "clean" referred to leaving company data unsecured on your desk, not to things like family photos.

      When I hear stories like this, I am always amazed that they can find people willing to work in such places.

      1. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        Well, the big thing round these here parts is 'Activity Based Workplaces'.

        Basically, if we assume only 70% of staff are in the office at any one time, we only provide 70% of desks, requiring 70% of the floorspace, saving us money in both office hardware and space rental. Then we give each person a notebook PC (which we generously allow them to lug home with them every evening) and tell them to 'find a space' when they come in to the office.

        This means every desk area is 100% anonymous, because nobody has a permanent desk.

        This has immediate and massive benefits to our staff because ... well, you know, having a team spread across many different floors (or even buildings) within the campus makes for more efficient... no, wait, you get to sit with people who do a completely different job to you, so you get to try to concentrate on some tricky coding while a salesdroid yells into his phone at the next 'workstation' and ... hang on, I'm not explaining the advantages very well here..

        Did I mention we save money on office equipment and space rental?

      2. Oengus Silver badge

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        I remember one job I was in where one manager (not my manager) berated me for failing to follow the company's clean desk policy. I ask him what on my desk violated the policy (it was piled high with reference manuals and program specs that I working on). He was unable to tell me so I quoted the clean desk policy word for word and pointed out that nothing on my desk violated the policy and if he had an issue he should take it up with my manager. My manager was in his office laughing his head off...

      3. Criggie

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        Getting paid is an *excellent* motivator.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

        When I hear stories like this, I am always amazed that they can find people willing to work in such places.

        Usually it's a mix of recent college graduates who haven't yet heard all the horror stories (or are figuring on picking up some useful experience points before moving on to better pastures) and living in an area where the particular black-company is the last remaining gig in town.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      My 270 degree desk has Hubble videos playing when I don't have monitoring apps running.

      One monster tower above desk, three under, four laptops for poc and dev ops.

      SO many useless knicj knacks people keep asking to keep them.

      There are about twenty five funny or dank meme reprints (My connection is a little ruff, error human is dead mismatch, how about no bear etc..)

      When the VP visited he wasn't disgusted, I was told he was amazed a fifty year old was so up on tech and culture (I was out having a wine and rib lunch).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      I particularly like this question.

      If a full and untidy desk is the reflection sign of a disorganised person, what is an empty desk the sign of?

    5. ROC

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      Yep, same company, same policy ding a while before I got laid off so my work could be done by bozos in Brazil with no training in the product I had been supporting (non-IBM per Global Services customer requirements).

      When my crying manager told me of the layoff (figuring she would be next I think) on the phone from 2000 miles away, my reaction was "Free at last!" (nice layoff package 11 years ago, that is not offered any more helped...). Two tears after I took my skills back to my employer previous to IBM, I learned from that former boss (still at IBM) that the US-based customer was fed up with "communications" issues, and had the work brought back to the US to be supported by a guy I had mentored - ha!

      Anyway, IBM's downward spiral still seems to be descending per ongoing chronicling by "Robert X. Cringely" (actually Mark Stephens) - look for his writings on that slow motion suicide ( https://www.cringely.com/ )

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desks should be clear anyway,...

      Reminds me of an Shanghai (China) office manager, who dictated to mark all objects on the desk with a yellow tape (phone, phone-cable, notebook, stapler). If anything was over the edge of the yellow markings you got a worse grading.

      I heard that's a common office thingy in China - as I has been told by the CEO, when I told him of my business trip to our Shanghai office.

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

    Given we're talking about IBM, I wouldn't be surprised if the visit is a prelude to there being a 0% occupancy shortly afterwards.

    Which, to be fair, might be a relief for everyone who has had to associate with a fun and vibrant team of marketeers for more than the duration of an executive outing.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      I'm thinking about an app to hire stand-ins to ensure 100% occupancy is such situations... maybe I can call it UberChair, AirC&D or Oooooocupancy....

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

        How about using #occupyaustin on the social media platform of your choice to make sure as many people show up as possible?

      2. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

        /thinks a moment.... .hmmm.

        I'm thinking about an app to hire stand-ins to ensure 100% occupancy is such situations... maybe I can call it UberChair, AirC&D or Oookoookupancy....

        There, thats more like it.

    2. smudge Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      Any reasonably sentient visitor would ask why the office is 100% full, and why staff are not out visiting clients...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      Whereas I thought... Ginny - "We have so many people, lets get rid of some and make this months figures even better."

      Do we know if she came via helicopter?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

        I'm pretty sure the list of preclusions included helicoptering in front of her

      2. earl grey Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

        "Do we know if she came via helicopter?"

        Yes, she comes in the helicopter. Just like Barbarella.

    4. rmason Silver badge

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      @Warm Braw

      "This giant cost centre, here, on this chart.

      SHOW IT TO ME"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Douglas Adams? Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      Did anybody else read "a fun and vibrant team of marketeers" in the voice of a Genuine People Personality?

      1. Mpeler
        Alien

        Re: Douglas Adams? We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

        Thank you for making a simple door very happy...

    6. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      If they really couldn't achieve 100% occupancy, then they could always hire a bunch of extras for a day, just to fill seats.

    7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      Where I work most of the professional staff work from home 2 or 3 days a week. When our CEO comes by we are expected to work our normal schedule. So if your desk is empty, no one cares.

    8. Tim99 Silver badge

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      I think they call it “a pre-scrap overhaul”...

    9. AdamWill

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      isn't "a fun and vibrant team of marketeers" the fifth circle of hell?

    10. Mpeler
      Paris Hilton

      Re: We expect 100% occupancy during the visit

      "a fun and vibrant team of marketeers" who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.....

      And don't forget the telephone sanitizers, and the moodily-lit tubes of toothpaste.....

      Closest I could find to Fenchurch ---------------------------------------------^^^^

  2. Aaiieeee
    WTF?

    My employer does not have the power to tell me when I can or can not use the toilets; I will go when I so desire.

    So as the CEO swans around each site she only see a facade of perfection, a show put on by directors hoping to look good. Are CEO's generally so detacehed from reality they buy into this, or do they really just want to see their actual company and spend some time with the proles every so often and escape the hand wringing?

    1. Fred Dibnah

      Allegedly, the queen thinks that everywhere in the UK smells of fresh paint.

    2. lglethal Silver badge
      Go

      Depends on the CEO of course. But do you really need to ask when it comes to Ginni "We need to cut costs but i fly in a helicopter" Rommety?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Well... she'll use the corporate jet first to get to Austin but her chopper will already be there (rental maybe since the other one is at "home") so she doesn't have associate with the hoi-palloi, airport security, etc. But it'll all be good because she works uninterrupted on the plane.. Right?

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      I think it doesn't mean don't use the toilet, it means don't use the toilet as an excuse to meet the boss's boss and pitch your idea for Bluetooth underwear.

      Of course - they already know what the office looks like, because of the cameras. Toilets included, probably.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        She should be concerned for her safety if being pitched to by a male while doing her business.

    4. Joe Harrison Silver badge

      If you can leave your workstation to go to the toilet just when you feel like it then count yourselves lucky. The average helpdesk droidperson these days usually has to put their hand up and say please sir to the teamleader, kind of like primary school.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So as the CEO swans around each site she only see a facade of perfection, a show put on by directors hoping to look good.

      I suspect the strained faces will give the loo-break ban away anyway :).

  3. David Nash Silver badge

    Not the CEO

    Seems to me that it's not the CEO insisting on this but those one or two steps below.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not the CEO

      Probably. But if I were the CEO, that vibrant team would be soon in search of new jobs after something like that - for trying to deceive me about the real company status and eventual needs.

      But many CEOs instead exactly like those people who work hard to bootlick...

    2. Justicesays

      Re: Not the CEO

      The leeches already firmly attached to Gini's ass are trying to ensure a minimum separation is maintained so no-one else can attach themselves.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not the CEO

      I always assumed Ginni was to busy counting her money or sharpening her axe to worry about little things like this and managing the company...

  4. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    IBM hasn't been IBM for a very long time

    I visited the San Jose site a couple of times in 1999 and that was the IBM I know.

    This is some corporate parasites.

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: IBM hasn't been IBM for a very long time

      Which on. San Teresa or Almaden ? Almaden is were they did HDD research and since burned to the ground .

    2. karlkarl

      Re: IBM hasn't been IBM for a very long time

      This is exactly what happens when hordes of childish upper management takes over, they start putting even higher management up on pedestals and worshiping them as gods.

      How can anyone get any actual work done under this kind of condition?!

      It's sad. I want the old IBM back!

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