back to article IBM's Marissa Mayer moment: Staff ordered to work in one of 6 main offices – or face the axe

IBM is cracking down on remote workers, ordering unlucky employees to either come into one of six main offices and work "shoulder to shoulder" – or leave for good. In a confidential video message to staff seen by The Register on Tuesday, chief marketing officer Michelle Peluso told her US marketing troops they must work at "a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Marissa Mayer

    She works in IBM?!?!?

    Oh, it's actually Michelle Peluso.

    It would be nice to indicate her name in the 'quote' somehow. You know giving credit that it's a different person. It's not like all she's are the same.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Marissa Mayer

      I think it's pretttttty clear the quotes are from Peluso. She's mentioned and named right through the story and there's a screenshot of her from her staff vid, captioned "Michelle Peluso". And the link with Mayer is explained after.

      C.

      1. gv
        Facepalm

        Re: Marissa Mayer

        Of course Mayer's policy was such a complete success, a yuge success.

        1. Chemical Bob

          Re: a yuge success

          Ya misspelt "YUUUUGE"

    2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Marissa Mayer

      Dear Anonymous Idiot.

      You're an idiot.

    3. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Marissa Mayer

      One can only assume, given how clueless you are, you must be a senior manager in IBM!

  2. Phil Kingston

    Would it be wrong to suppose that once they've got stats on who actually turns up for work (rather than saying they "telecommute") that they'll be some nice performance comparisons between the teams and pretty swiftly after that, a realisation that having 6 separate marketing teams in one country is probably 5 too many?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Their marketing strategy is odd. All of these broad scale mass market campaigns, e.g. TV spots. How many people are really in the market for a mainframe or IT outsourcing? It seems like they could take a more targeted approach.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      The US market is a little different to other countries. It's heavily city based, and one city responds differently to another. Compare San Francisco to Princeton, Texas, for example. Or even Ann Arbor to Detroit.

      There is a much stronger argument for regional marketing in the US than in the UK. We have regional differences but they are less significant and the borders are much softer. The only real US style boundary we have is the Severn and even that doesn't stop people commuting to Cribs Causeway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yet US companies group large chunks of the rest of the world together - EMEA for example for Europe, Middle East and Africa

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's the trouble with telecommuting....

      Everyone wants to do it. Some find they are more productive. Others take the piss. I think we all know someone who regularly works from home and who we suspect of (or simply know is) taking the piss.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Phil

      You can have multiple marketing teams. It depends on the number of products and the size of a team.

      There are a couple of issues though.

      1) Who pays for the relocation costs?

      2) Does their salary change based on the difference in cost of living?

      Going from Podunk Indiana to New York City... doesn't work.

      This is in fact a stealth RIF. She's counting on a majority of staff saying Alpha Mike Foxtrot to the borg.

      Posted Anon for the obvious reasons... I escaped from the borg and they are still hunting for me. ;-)

      1. Retiredbob

        Re: @Phil

        The article started that some relocation costs will be reimbursed, but there will be no raises, so this seems strictly a way to cut head count without the worry of benefits

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Retiredbob ... Re: @Phil

          Yeah, did you read my post?

          RIF == Reduction In Force.

          If its voluntary, it doesn't have to be reported. Some could keep an open headcount slot and be instructed not to fill it. (HR plays some weird games)

          Relocation can be expensive and while they may pay some of the costs, some may be a small fraction.

          And the lack of salary adjustment is the true sign that this is a stealth RIF action.

          I can remember when IBM ran a program that would relocate those able to work in a foreign country to move back to the foreign country but work at local rates. (In short, you get sent packing, and your salary drops. ) See South Africa and India.... I don't know how many, if anyone took advantage of this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Retiredbob ... @Phil

            Trouble with these shenanigans is who ends up putting up with it and moving?

            a) "amazingly productive people"?

            or

            b) people who can't find as cushy a job anywhere else?

    5. Archtech Silver badge

      Appointment in Samarra

      Probably six too many in fact. I can recognise a death spiral when I see one. Back in 1990-3 many people were saying that IBM had had it. I disagreed: "a legacy system is one that works".

      But this kind of management behaviour is a dead giveaway of a dying company. The managers get paranoid and want to haul everyone into the office so they can spy on them, micromanage them, and do their best to drive them mad. Then they can fire them for poor performance and blame the company's demise on them.

      Straight out of Dilbert. (Although, to be fair, most of Dilbert is straight out of the real world).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Appointment in Samarra

        IBM has hollowed itself out with C-level perks and slash-and-burn business practices, all in the name of "shareholder value". Sadly, they've removed almost all of their value to their customers in the process.

    6. The IT Ghost

      The part that I find odd is that a person could live in a suburb of Atlanta, but be working on a team on LA, and instead of going to the Atlanta office, be forced to move to LA, despite living within a semi-reasonable distance of *an* IBM office. Too much to hope for that the unlucky person would be permitted to switch to the team based at the office already nearby, rather than moving to where the cost of living is three times higher? This isn't about being "competitive" or "x factor" or any of the other buzzword-bingo terms used here, this is so a managerial person that reports up the chain to our videogenic friend here can go and count noses and shoulder surf to make sure people are working, to keep the minions firmly under thumb. If you're looking to get someone to spend seven figures on an AS/400 upgrade, you don't work that deal over the phone from the other side of the country. And airplanes, hotels, rental cars...they add up fast, especially if the saleperson has to make several trips. Add in more of the same for "presales engineering" on at least some of those trips, you can quickly find expenses exceed the "savings" of putting everyone in to one location.

      Fact is, it boils down to trust..or lack thereof, in one's employees. So you gather them together where you can watch them...c'mon, these the salespeople, they're on commission. If they goof off, they don't get paid...at least, not very much. Besides...if "A" has zero sales for very long, its not hard to think "Gee, maybe we should be talking to A, find out what's going on." Maybe there's leads A is chasing but the customer has to work the budget, and pry more money out of the accountants, maybe A is watching Youtube all day. Either way, A isn't getting much income. That's a self-correcting situation...A will eventually need money and get busy selling stuff, will drum up new leads for the stagnant ones, or move on to some other job where doing nothing pays well and is appreciated...like being a member of Congress. They're paid well and, generally, the less they do the better since everything they do ends up costing billions of dollars for no return or make life less happy for the average taxpayer.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        @IT Ghost.

        You've never worked for IBM.

        If you had, you'd understand that if they tried to switch teams, there wouldn't be any head count to switch in to.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @IT Ghost.

          That is something that is said at IBM. No headcount in that team or division. There were a lot of situations where you couldn't transfer from division to division or team to team for some bureaucratic reason that was never fully explained.

        2. The IT Ghost

          Re: @IT Ghost.

          Actually, I was a contractor there on two separate occasions - once for 18 months or so, another for just under five years. The first time I switched teams once, and the second time twice, and possibly a third was pending at the time I resigned. But...in the sense you mean of actually being an IBM employee, no; I was a yellow-stripe.

    7. stu 4

      Teleconferencing

      This is class.. I mean.. it's been 15 years since I watched a TV advert,

      but around 2000, IBM were the ones flogging remote working, with IBM technology making it all work!

      Are they still doing that ?

      some message.. look - we make technology that allows folk to work at home (I mean it's shit like.. we don't even use it... but you know.. if you want to buy it we'll sell you it for a small fortune).

      (p.s. I happily work 50%+ of my time at home - not for IBM! - and get a shit load more work done than in an office... but then I work for a company where my boss has a real job as well as looking after me..)

      DIE IBM DIE.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Teleconferencing

        but around 2000, IBM were the ones flogging remote working, with IBM technology making it all work!

        Are they still doing that ?

        Probably, but as is the way with ALL heavily-flogged products from IBM, they know better than to rely on anything internally they sell for excessive dollars externally. Forget eating their own dogfood, they RA'ed the dog.

        But sometimes the reason they have folks doing full-time telecommuting is they don't want to cough up the expenses of providing actual on-site office space. The only people making money at IBM are the ones charging for office space and site fees for on-site employees (or even the fees for email and badges for those telecommuters)

        Have to laugh at the comment from their Chief Mangling Officer:

        "...But we have gotten to a place where we're excited about the path forward..."

        I think the path is downwards, not forward. Has been for 20-25 years now.

    8. cray74

      a realisation that having 6 separate marketing teams in one country is probably 5 too many?

      There's something to be said for having a marketing team on site that knows your local capabilities.

      I used to work at an R&D firm with a number of different activities at different sites. Most of the exciting engineering work happened at the Pennsylvania HQ, but I worked in a southerly lab site bought on the cheap when the Cold War ended. It had some great lab facilities and worked on military programs for composites and corrosion abatement. Which meant I got to do such exciting things as watching steel rust over a period of months and write reports on the experience. My office gradually withered over 9 years from 120 personnel to 10, when I was laid off. It closed a few months after I was booted out the door.

      My site's chronic problems were:

      1) The rest of the company didn't know we existed, and

      2) The marketing folks couldn't sell us to customers when they remembered we existed.

      Predictably, marketing people were based out of the Pennsylvania HQ. Marketing is a reasonable HQ function. But if those marketing people found out we existed, we were a bullet in their 20-page presentations ("excellent accelerated environmental testing lab") and they never reminded the HQ engineers we were supposed to be used on the new contracts. Sometimes we invited marketing folks down to our facility, where they got the deluxe tour, a vacation on sunny beaches, and learned what we did. ("So...you make metals rust?") They never never quite figured out how that was important to marketing an R&D firm. (Like the larger US economy, the DoD loses about 5% of its annual budget to corrosion-related hardware wear and tear. There's research money in them thar hills.) Being based out of the HQ, they were immersed in very different engineering capabilities than an environmental test lab.

      I would really have loved to have seen an on-site marketing team who knew local capabilities inside and out, and how to market environmental test capabilities. Instead we got military retirees hired for their contacts and networking in the DoD, plus rural Pennsatuckey used car salesmen who wouldn't know ASTM B-117 salt fog testing from design of experiments.

      Hell, I would've liked it if the rest of the company knew we existed. It was awesome to coordinate testing with the facilities at HQ and have a lab minion say, "Well, we can't start the corrosion testing for three months."

      Me: "Er, why?"

      HQ lab: "Well, our tiny salt fog chamber is backed up for three months. It's in high demand since it's the only salt fog chamber in the company."

      Me: "...We have three giant, programmable, humidity / temperature / salt fog chambers down here hungry for work."

      HQ lab: "Really, I never knew about those."

      Me: "We sent pamphlets and gave presentations to you."

      HQ lab: "Oh, those. That was five years ago and we forgot."

      On site marketing hacks who knew and understood our capabilities would've been great. Centralized personnel can lose touch with local capabilities of big organizations.

  3. Magani
    Linux

    Downward spiral?

    Meanwhile, IBM is heading toward its 20th consecutive quarter of declining revenue.

    Earlier in an IBM boardroom...

    "Guess what? I've found a way to reduce staff numbers without actually firing anyone!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Downward spiral?

      IBM has been going down since it moved from its core business following some marketing dream.

      They gave up the PC, OS/2, notebooks, servers and so on and have been floundering ever since.

      1. Bamboozled

        Re: Downward spiral?

        The writing was on the wall when they started their GD drive, sourcing cheap labour elsewhere did all the harm, I suspect many customers dropped IBM due to this.

        Somewhere an ex-IBM bean counter executive is walking around bragging on his CV how much he saved IBM in salary costs. Unfortunately he isn't around to see how he ruined the business...

      2. The IT Ghost

        Re: Downward spiral?

        The IBM PC was, for the time, a good product - PS/2 was CRAP. Proprietary *everything*...damned Microchannel...back in the day you could get a good sound card for $90...ISA. An entry-level MCA card, $160...and that was in 1991ish. Monitors...mine lasted a year before one of the guns went out, necessitating replacement. Pins on the video card so fragile they bent if you looked at them wrong. I suppose it was a decent system when it worked, but it was expensive to buy and more expensive to upgrade. I was very happy to retire my 8088 PS/2 70 for a self-built 386SX...with a ****ing ISA bus.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

    Great idea.

    Then I happen on this article, telling me that an IBM BlueMix cloud thingy is now free.

    I'm sure IBM is going to have a roaring success if they manage their cloud like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

      Free to use the tool to migrate a DB into BlueMix. Not free to actually run the DB... or migrate back out again.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

        "Not free to actually run the DB... or migrate back out again."

        The first one is free...

    2. ryback

      Re: So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

      Cloud computing is the future! If a company moves all their data to the cloud, their employees are free to access it from anywhere and are no longer confined to the enterprise network - unless they work at IBM...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

      So IBM wants to make its money in the Cloud now

      They figure if they can move ALL their systems to the "cloud" they won't have to have any actual physical hardware.

  5. AMBxx Silver badge
    Mushroom

    It's only marketing

    Not sure I'd want marketing to telecommute. Hard enough to see what they do as it is.

    Can we now have an IBM marketing campaign on IBM facilitating remote working for their customers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's only marketing

      "Can we now have an IBM marketing campaign on IBM facilitating remote working for their customers?"

      I was thinking that too. Isn't mobility one of IBM's strategic imperatives?

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: It's only marketing

      > Not sure I'd want marketing to telecommute. Hard enough to see what they do as it is.

      What they do seems pretty visible to me: they vet every public statement to make sure that the word "Watson" appears several times.

  6. dbannon

    IBM Marketing

    Hey, they ran a campaign here years ago along the lines of "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM." Inspiring. I guess they were all working from home when that was decided.....

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: IBM Marketing

      Must have been many years ago then. People have been saying that (both seriously and cynically) for at least 50 years.

    2. nijam

      Re: IBM Marketing

      > "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM."

      But it didn't say "no one ever got fired for choosing IBM as an employer."

      IBM - I've been Moved.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: IBM Marketing

        "IBM - I've been Moved"

        Somebody knows.

        Many years ago, like 1981-1984, I lived for a few years in the home of IBM, Endicott, NY. Large parts of the centre of the town (sorry, village) were either IBM plants or offices, or car parks for IBM employees. At one point, there was a dead-end street in between two car parks (not multi-storey, duh), and IBM bought the street from the Endicott trustees and converted the two car parks and the street into one big car park.

        Consequence: you got to hear all the dumb jokes made about IBM. And that was one of them. The company even had a special subsidiary or something whose role was to buy employees' houses when the company asked them to move to another location, so that they didn't have to wait for the house to sell on a person-to-person basis.

        So if they are being told they may have to move to a location far from where they are now, well, that's not a surprise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IBM Marketing

          Ah, good old Endicrotch. I passed through a few years ago and it was a real hole, worse than ever. At least they're not making anyone move there, or Armonk.

          That was the reason Gene Amdahl quit and started his own computer company.

          I suggest that newly disaffected employees do the same.

          P.S. this is what Mountain View will be in 30 years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IBM Marketing

          "IBM - I've been Moved"

          Remember once at a conference in the US hearing one attendee tell another how as a child he'd moved house almost every year - and the person he was talking to asked if this was because his father had been in the militarybut got the reply "no, worse than that, he worked for IBM".

      2. Retiredbob

        Re: IBM Marketing

        Or the other : Intercourse Between Managers

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM Marketing

        IBM - I've been Moved.

        Idiots Become Managers

        1. willsmith888

          Re: IBM Marketing

          OK, that is a new one for me, pretty clever!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM Marketing

      You've got it all wrong.

      Just because in the past no one got fired for choosing IBM, doesn't mean you can't get fired if you work for IBM. I know many, many people who've been pushed out during the annual RIF purges.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM Marketing

        And the contractors brought in to replace all the victims of the previous RIF are furloughed for a week or more every few of months.

  7. kmac499

    I follow the mantra "Never trust a salemen, Why? because it saves time later"

    But really, would you even allow anyone through the door trying to sell a product where the supplier rejects some of the benefits themselves.

    Only a marketing 'genius' could come up with that pitch Mind you once the marketing dept has been converted to a call centre it would be ripe for outsourcing...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ""Never trust a salemen, Why? because it saves time later""

      Evil marketeer here.

      Having preyed on many a clueless PHB over the years you are right not to trust any of them. Always remember that "Award Winning Salesman" means awarded for sucking money out of customers. Like a successful paedophile being promoted to Head of Social Services, this is not a good thing for the customers.

      Smart managers start with a problem they want to solve, not a new piece of shiny they want to buy. They listen to salespeople and watch their pitches but they always remember it's been tailored to make that product look good and should be aware that the product may right at the edge of what it can do without massive extra work.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: ""Never trust a salemen, Why? because it saves time later""

        "...Smart managers start with a problem they want to solve, not a new piece of shiny they want to buy..."

        This!

        This has always been part of my approach to interviewing consultant level staff.

        First off for anything technical, ask what they feel strongest in - that way you avoid asking questions on their weakest subject by accident. And if they're crap at that, chances are they suck at everything else, too.

        I would expect anyone at that level to be able to sketch me out a quick back of the napkin design on a chosen bit of tech. The next question can be the toughest though..."Ok...so now pretend I am the FD of a company...tell me _why_ I should buy that..."

        I'm looking for the ones who can say you shouldn't or asking me what I hope to achieve or...what are the problems we are having and let's approach it from that perspective rather than selling shiny.

    2. Triggerfish

      I follow the mantra "Never trust a salemen, Why? because it saves time later"

      One of my old employers (a Yorkshire factory owner so you can guess how straight talking he was) used to follow the mantra of "Tell them to go fuck themselves".

      I used to love the sales call you occasionally get when a salemen would try after being politely rebuffed, the "are you authorised to refuse to speak/ put me through to" trick......actually mate I am authorised by the boss to tell you to..

      Occasionally we would have to talk to them though cos we needed stuff, so he would deal with it, it could be quite brutal for them, I've seen salesmens smile fade like tears in the rain withing the first few sentences of a meeting.

      1. fandom

        My mother always tells me to be nice to sales representatives, after all one of my grandfathers I never knew used to be one of them.

        But, even if he hadn't been, I don't really see the point of being a bully.

        1. Triggerfish

          TBH I always go on the be polite as well stance (you'll note I said polite refusal first in my post), because I was brought up that way, and also being English I occasionally find myself even wanting to say thank you to the cash machine.

          And I really dislike bullies , so have an upvote from me for the sentiment.

          But there are certain sort of sales persons who actually try and bully people into passing you through.

          They will lie and say they have been talking to the CEO, and threaten you with losing your job if you do not do so, often they will ask your name to take it down. Or they will start with the are you really in a position in the company where you are authorised to do this, you minion technique.

          Sometimes they will try it out on newbs I have had working under me, who then feel shitty about falling for it, or worried they have done the wrong thing.

          As far as I am concerened those ones are fair game and I have no remorse or mercy.

          As for the meetings, it wasn't bullying, the boss would start off by noting the salesmen nice car and shiny rolex which the saleman would be happy to show off, and then make a comment about him not needing to make much bonuses from sales here since he was already doing so well. Then the haggling would start.

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Pirate

            My current least favourite sales tactic is sending you meeting invites so they appear in your calendar and intrusively pop up on my work phone too. The selfsame company also sent a message saying "Hi $NAME, no love for $CRAPPYCOMPANY". I actually quite like their products but have no inclination to engage with them.

            They should all be forced to walk the plank ->

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

          "But, even if he hadn't been, I don't really see the point of being a bully."

          Depends how often they pester you. If they call me once every six months to check in, I'm fine with that and will usually have a chat. If they (or their replacement) call me every week, I'm much more likely to give them a two-word answer involving sex and travel.

  8. Dr Scrum Master

    Up the Organization

    How about Robert Townsend's solution for Marketing?

    Get rid of them and have all senior managers responsible for marketing.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Up the Organization

      Senior managers are why marketing is such a clusterfuck.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Up the Organization

      or sales... the people actually speaking to the few thousand customers who might buy IBM's products and probably know best what they are interested in, which events they attend, etc. It always struck me as odd, in the B2B space, that most marketers have never spent time in the field as a sales person, a technical consultant, etc. We don't need to guess what the customers are interested in or which marketing channels will be effective, we have people who know because they speak with the customers all the time.

    3. yoganmahew

      Re: Up the Organization

      But, but, then the executives and the board wouldn't be able to employ pschopaths as senior managers!

  9. DougS Silver badge

    Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

    Much cheaper than paying severance when you fire them, and opens up a lot of positions to hire with new college grads (for contracts that require US based support) and the rest overseas where it is cheaper.

    I've been telecommuting almost exclusively for a decade now, there's no way I'd go back to working in an office. Especially if I had to move to some city assigned to me (I'll bet with little cost of living adjustment if someone living in a cheap place gets assigned to NYC or SF)

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

      Expect more of this sort of thing over here as constructive dismissal drops off the cliff with all the other work protection laws.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

      One of the flaws with this approach is that the people who will leave voluntarily are those most able to get a job elsewhere. Those who you end up keeping will be those you should have got rid of in the first place, including, of course, whoever came up with the dumb idea in the first place. And so the average IQ of the business gradually drifts downwards due to Niwradian (reverse Darwinian) selection.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

        My son's theory was that a sensible company that needed to restructure should offer very generous redundo terms, and then just sack anyone who didn't at least enquire.

    3. earl grey Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

      "paying severance"

      Not so much...in the US, if you "voluntarily" leave, it's not a severance issue. if you are let go, they only have a severance of ONE month anyway, so it's not much and there's no telling they won't move you to an expensive living and travel area and then let you go a month later anyway. I wouldn't trust them as far as i could throw Big Ben.

    4. GAbeamers

      Re: Creative way to get many US employees to voluntarily quit

      In the US, IBM has practically done away with severance. The MAX a US IBMer can get has been reduced from six months to ONE MONTH. That's it. One month... IBM has determined that flip chart paper and white board markers are more important than employees.

      And yes, I am looking for other work. Although I am not in marketing, we did just get word that we will be expected to report to a central office in the second quarter. My view is "that's fine...but I won't be taking calls in the wee hours any longer, and I will do my best to avoid weekend travel...if you're inconveniencing me by making me sit in traffic, then I'm not giving you my weekend and night time any longer. "

  10. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    She has no clue

    there is something about a team being more powerful, more impactful, more creative, and frankly hopefully having more fun when they are shoulder to shoulder. Bringing people together creates its own X Factor.

    Where 'X' is the unknown?

    That statement is complete bollocks, having a distributed team has it's own advantages once you learn to take into account timezone and cultural differences so that you use them instead of fighting them. Remote workers in distributed teams tend to spend less time goofing off around the coffee machine and can be more productive than a team that is all in one place, when properly encouraged and managed.

    Most important of all is having a team and Peluso seems determined to destory the teams she has.

    Go IBM! (I work for a competitor...)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: She has no clue

      A lot depends on the team skill, composition, and project type.

      For example if you have many juniors who need some for of tutoring may be harder to work remotely. With seniors who better know what to do and how, could be easier. Some projects need a level of security you can't achieve with remote workers, or an infrastructure you can't easily use outside the office.

      Some people prefer to work and be able to meet face to face, other doesn't. One size doesn't fit all.

    2. HarryCoh

      Re: She has no clue

      "Remote workers in distributed teams tend to spend less time goofing off around the coffee machine and can be more productive than a team that is all in one place, when properly encouraged and managed."

      I think that identifies a couple of reasons against remote working:

      "goofing off around the coffee machine" can be translated as exchanging ideas, getting updates and building relationships. A very important part of office life, particularly for creative areas whether marketing or deisgning software.

      "when properly encouraged and managed." Managing teams in person is not always easy. Managing remote teams can massively add to difficulty. Having partnered with IBM for 7-8 years ( and with some previous companies) we have suffered from inefficiencies with communication between IBM'ers and some remote workers going off-grid.

      There is a place for remote working, maybe standard coding requiring little interaction or someone making lots of outbound calls.

      I am under impression that the big tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook etc are\have been investing in big offices for precisely this reason, Am I wrong?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: She has no clue

        "goofing off around the coffee machine" can be translated as exchanging ideas, getting updates and building relationships. A very important part of office life, particularly for creative areas whether marketing or deisgning software.

        Absolutely. Football in the corridors, maybe less so...

        I do most of my remote interactions via IM, mail, phone and regular f2f meetings. I'm no less productive than many of my office-bound colleagues

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: She has no clue

          "goofing off around the coffee machine" can be translated as exchanging ideas, getting updates and building relationships. A very important part of office life, particularly for creative areas whether marketing or deisgning software.

          Yes, but these are *marketing* teams, not software designers or chip fabbing geeks.

          Do we really need more "creative" marketing around what is essentially an easy to understand product line (until the marketers start writing it up of course)?

      2. wayne 8

        Re: She has no clue

        I was dinged on a review because I wasn't hanging out chatting with coworkers.

        1. The IT Ghost

          Re: She has no clue

          Me, too. I said nothing at the time, since you then get dinged for "being defensive", but I thought "I'm over THERE talking with people near where my desk is, I'm just not over HERE on the other side of the building, chatting with people where you can see me from your office."

  11. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Little chance of this being brought to the UK, IBM no longer has the office space to accommodate it's remote workers. I worked from home for nearly a decade, and during that time saw two of the offices I used to visit shrink considerably, and saw other locations close entirely. Any job that can be done remotely, can be done from a bit further away, in a lower cost country, so it's more likely any remaining UK remote workers will see their job offshored.

    Meanwhile, for IBMers in the USA, this sucks. It also rather shoots down the marketing hype of remote collaboration tools. Hard to sell that idea when you do the exact opposite.

    1. 's water music Silver badge
      Joke

      smaller?

      I worked from home for nearly a decade, and during that time saw two of the offices I used to visit shrink considerably...

      Are you sure they shrank or could they just have been further away once you got home?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: smaller?

        I worked for IBM for 14 years and was actively encouraged to work anywhere but in the office. I was notionally based at South Bank but unless I had to go in for work, IBM UK had zero issues with me working from home as office space is expensive.

        They would prefer you to be on the client site charging the client (I was GBS), then at home using my heating and lighting and then if I had to, come into South Bank. Desks were at a premium as they were all hot desks, small offices were like gold dust. The only way to really get them was to buy a senior partner's secretary chocolates and woo them. That worked well and they cut threw all the crap :)

        In my time there, I recall IBM closed Basingstoke, they moved South Bank around so much I have no idea if all of the office was being used, I think Worcester shrank, one (two?) of the blocks at Bedfont Lakes went. Farnborough is probably gone, one of the Manchester offices went, Leeds went. Hursley is still there and a nice place to work.

        The only downside to being allocated a 'home' office was that all new joiners from one year on get allocated South Bank as their main office, regardless of where they lived. IBM would not pay expenses to get to an IBM meeting to your 'home' office. I live London so SB was ideal, one of my staff lived in Scotland and was not best pleased at having to pay to come to London once a year or so. It was a major, major hassle to get his location shifted to somewhere closer. It was a shitty way to save money.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: smaller?

          Basingstoke,..... went once,... pretty miserable looking tower block iirc? No architectural loss. IBM Warwick is half the size it used to be, sold off the building that was connected via the bridge to 'Telent', and IBM Notts used to have both sides of the City Gate offices, shrinking to one floor in one block now (recently moving from City Gate West to East, I presume further downsizing).

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Seems par for the course

    IBM has been going through a lot of layoffs in the last few years. All these petty rules and changes to working conditions are merely a way to get rid of people "voluntarily" to spare IBM the trouble of paying for a severance package.

    1. Malignant_Narcissism

      Re: Seems par for the course

      News Flash: In the U.S., a job is privilege, not right.

  13. frank ly

    A contradiction at the end there

    "There is only one recipe I know for success, ..., and that is by bringing great people with the right skills, give them the right tools, give them a mission, make sure they can analyze their results, put them in really creative inspiring locations and set them free. "

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    "...put them in really creative inspiring locations and set them free..."

    i.e. "let's make the drones commute for miles to one of our godawful 70s concrete monstrosities then sack them!"

    I'd hate to work for IBM, so you have my deep sympathies if you actually do.

  15. Cuddles Silver badge

    The beatings will continue until morale improves...

    "there is something about a team being more powerful, more impactful, more creative, and frankly hopefully having more fun when they are shoulder to shoulder. Bringing people together creates its own X Factor."

    People have more fun while they're together, and you'd better all start having fun right now or you're fired.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The beatings will continue until morale improves...

      So good being shoved into a shoebox and unable to work because all the ESFPs in there love the sound of their own voice. Really helps you follow your train of thought.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: The beatings will continue until morale improves...

      I had fun once. I was awful.

  16. Dan McIntyre

    What do IBM even do anymore?

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      What do IBM even do anymore?

      I believe they are a major investor in land and property, which is ironic given the story.

      You made me think though.

      • They sold the PC brand to the Chinese, so its not PC's
      • Server sales are down a lot due to the hype around anything with the word cloud in the name
      • There can't be that much to be made on mainframe and midrange sales and maintenance.

      So I can only think its consultancy and all the software they have been buying up over the years.

      1. lone_wolf

        Thought the sold the Intel Server Biz off as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What do IBM even do anymore?

      Some IBMer once said they're now in the employee-reduction business.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Yahoo experience

    No longer at Y!, but this is what happened in my technical team when the homeworking policy was applied. Only in the US, since EMEA and Asia were likely left out because of the HR issues and the fact that Marissa really didn't care that much.

    1) Everyone in the US told they had to work from a major US office that had a team presence. That basically meant Sunnyvale for most teams, but sometimes other offices. Those impacted got briefings from managers and HR giving them options. At the same time, Marissa shared her research into VPN logs (yes, really!) where clearly a couple of hundred people were marked as "WFH" while rarely actually logging on. These people left quite quickly!

    2) Pushback from the WFH people who were still there, including some of the most productive people in my group. Certain empty desks were assigned to those who were considered too important to lose but who refused to move. Eventually, a change in policy occurred when managers were permitted to apply for some people to WFH. However, recruitment still insisted on no new WFH hires.

    3) Fury from working parents when it turned out Marissa had her son and his nanny installed in a bespoke nursery in the office next to her.

    4) Some flexibility has crept back in. No sign of actual business or teamwork improvements due to this policy, but since the Quarterly reviews came in the same time, this is hardly surprising: that policy was pernicious and killed a lot of morale anyway.

    My personal opinion is that you have to meet your co-workers physically on a regular basis. How regular...dunno :-)

    1. nijam

      Re: The Yahoo experience

      > My personal opinion is that you have to meet your co-workers physically on a regular basis. How regular...dunno :-)

      Well, sometimes it helps... OTOH, we have one team member that the rest of the team are all very happy to have working remotely.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: The Yahoo experience

        OTOH, we have one team member that the rest of the team are all very happy to have working remotely.

        We had one team member who worked remotely, from Hawaii. He had to come in for meetings, tightwad managers would never let us go to him for them...

    2. GAbeamers

      Re: The Yahoo experience

      Agreed that there are many benefits to seeing coworkers face to face. However. about 10 years ago. IBM basically pushed us all to work at home. The only "rule" was that we needed to be within 50 miles or so of a major airport. Not a problem as I live in a metro area. Working from home brings a lot of flexibility dealing with my sons and their activities as my wife is office-based. I am happy to go to the office when needed. There's an office not 4 miles from my home.

      However, management is now looking at space at an IBM call center across the county for space as that's the only building with available space. It's only convenient to TWO of the dozen or so folks in my group who work in this area. The commute won't be awful for me, but having to sit on the interstate at rush hour is not a plus. I have accepted stagnate wages in exchange for work flexibility. If I need to go into an office daily, I will choose to work closer to home.

      IBM's move isn't a bad one, but coming after telling everyone you could live wherever, it's a bit thoughtless.

  18. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    So high that she can't see down.. or maybe just high

    Sounds like Big Blue could save a little bit of money by eliminating her position--probably enough to pay 6 or more much more useful employees. What a load of shit. In what way is forcing people who have lives and families to pull up stakes and move against their will, in a definite climate of uncertainty no less, a "team building" exercise? And working "shoulder to shoulder" is apparently right, if crappy workspaces in the article photo are any indication.

    Shouldn't job performance be an indicator as to whether people can telecommute or not? What is the point of forcing people to come to a brick n' mortar office if they're performing their jobs satisfactorily? Isn't tacking on a commute to their day just making for more unhappy, tireder workers that will now be less efficient? In what way would this save the company money or increase productivity?

    Seriously, incompetent "executives" such as this are what drags a company down and eventually kills it. Idiotic decisions like this make me extremely angry and I don't even work for IBM. (thankfully) Companies expect you to give 110%, be loyal, and always put the company first, then they reciprocate in a similar fashion to a spouse cheating when their partner is bedridden with cancer. I guess IBM won't be winning any "Best Place to Work" awards any day soon..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So high that she can't see down.. or maybe just high

      Sounds like Big Blue could save a little bit of money by eliminating her position--probably enough to pay 6 or more much more useful employees.

      I heard someone at an IBM office once suggest they could save a buttload of money if they just outsources the CEO and board of directors to India. You could probably fond a CEO there for $25K/yr, and they'd be equivalently incompetent to the people running (or ruining) IBM now.

  19. John H Woods Silver badge

    So, if physical presence is so vital ...

    ... offshored work will be brought back?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, if physical presence is so vital ...

      Very good :-)

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: So, if physical presence is so vital ...

      Isn't that the cornerstone of The Trump Employment Plan?

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: So, if physical presence is so vital ...

      No, soon you will be asked to work form one of the main offices in India...

  20. SecurityPiglet

    Beatings will continue until morale improves

  21. adam payne Silver badge

    "Peluso pitched the move not as a cost-slashing or staff-cutting measure, but as a way to improve the performance of Big Blue's marketing machine so it can take on Microsoft and Silicon Valley rivals. In the internal staff video, she reiterated "the need, that I felt, to bring our marketers into a smaller set of locations." Peluso continued:"

    It's not cost cutting unless you know a lot of the remote workers will leave. I suspect they have a good idea how many people won't move.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happeded to Us...

    The same happened to us in UK recently (2 locations)

    a LOT of people left, so all the knowledge has dissapeared, the ones who are left are struggling,

    and the organisation has had to replace LOTS of experienced staff with cheap kids out of school practically, and then have the gaul to say: 'ah look how cool we are employing so much new IT staff in UK and helping get young people into IT.' going on TV saying how were so amazing etc.

    Talk about shaft with the left hand and make out your amazing ignoring all the pain you have just caused with the right. thats spin for you, I bet you wont hear about any of the pain here either, only a good news spin story about how well it went at the end.

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    Should I stay or should I go?

    Consider yourselves lucky underlings, you've got one month to decide if you prefer being burned or quartered fired or loosing daily hours in commuting.

    And now go back to work, wage slaves!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Peluso and working remotely

    For anybody that worked at Travelocity, this is almost laughable.

    When Sabre made her the president of Travelocity, she kept her apartment in New York rather than move to TX to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the team. Over a few years, Travelocity went from being a leader to an also-ran, and was finally sold-off after her departure.

    A.

  25. Lars

    Oh please ElReg

    You don't face the axe, it hits you in the neck, learn from history.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And yet...

    Whilst this is happening in one part of IBM, elsewhere a team is being expanded by employing new developers in India instead of with the existing team.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet...

      A quick peek at the IBM career site seems to agree .. more jobs posted in India than America.

  27. jason 7 Silver badge

    Not a lot of thought goes into this stuff.

    I remember two occasions -

    1. About 25 years ago all of the clerical staff (average age 19 and living with parents) were called in and told we were to either relocate to Sheffield (from Norwich) or be made redundant. When we asked if there was a relocation package to help with our meagre average salaries of £5000pa we were told "No!"

    We took redundancy.

    2. The exec had to make 80 people redundant from a UK wide pool of around 500 staff. These staff all did different schemes and types of work. Did they agonise over who stayed and who went? Made sure the right skills were kept? etc. etc. Nope. They simply looked down the list of branches and found the first one closest to 80. Bingo, all gone.Took them 45 seconds.

  28. John Munyard

    The problem with issuing these kind of ultimatums is that often it is the most innovative, creative and valuable staff who simply just quit, because they are the ones who know they can just go and get another job.

  29. Mr. A. N. Onymous

    Will be interesting to see how this works out. Staff are not being given any relocation assistance beyond $2000 for miscellaneous expenses.

  30. slimscsi

    What is the point of cloud computing and infrastructure if employees aren't enabled to utilize those technologies?! Smooth move, IBM.....

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't get it

    These large companies don't get it.

    There's equal "proof" that remote/work from home people are as good, if not better than those in office teams. They will be better, if experienced and good skill in their job function, than those in offices. The reason being less distractions from colleagues, apart from the cat of course.

    They also may work slightly long hours, because they can, and often more productive.

    I bet there are stats that the employees are after to either prove or disprove the benefits. These need to be complete stats. I've seen companies try this, but never ever give evidence to employees to show that it "needs" to be done.

    This move will almost certainly have the opposite affect, since good people will leave causing them (IBM) massive issues.

    Well done IBM

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM's takeaway from Agile...

    Lots of noise about 'Agile' at IBM nowadays. The message from Agile and DevOps that the PHB's at IBM seem to have taken is about needing people onsite at the office (I suspect in part, because they need to justify their own jobs.) I see a lot more noise about people being in the office to maximise productivity...

    Where I am, we are inundated with this regularly with sermons on the mount from various higher ups. I had the temerity to question how they expected to deliver on Agile and DevOps when the local teams were so savagely cut we could not afford to pull someone out to co-locate with the customer development team for extended periods and the offshore teams are killing us when it comes to coordinating with the client - Latitude Hurts, Longitude Kills and my team has both working against us. The response was basically "we should be using a range of tools such as teleconferencing and (latest fad tool management have heard about)..."

    I work from home whenever I can - saves me 2 hours travel each way to work and I work longer hours as I'm not having to face traffic issues. As my offshore colleagues don't seem to wake up until near end of the business day (local customer time), my team tends to get escalation requests later in the day at times I'd be in transit.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new

    HP did the same thing several years ago; they actually had someone going around the cube farms - with an iPad, ironically - taking a census of who was in their cube and who wasn't each day. They then notified those that were absent x% of the time that they would lose their space and were un-officially told this would make them more vulnerable to WFRs

  34. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I smell ... MEETINGS!

    Ironic that a company selling equipment and services so that companies can be widely distributed is itself shy of the concept of decentralization.

    I wonder if the costs of heating, lighting, furniture etc have been factored into this management managing.

    I hear ... the sound of a large bathtub noisily draining.

  35. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    We found that this "X Factor" can be eliminated if you simply ban the practice of group luncheons in The Star of India before afternoon Fault Allocation Relating To Strategy meetings.

  36. wayne 8

    Traditional IBM

    "I've Been Moved" I heard this canard in the mid 70's.

    I wonder if this is to reduce head count by culling those who value their life balance more than work.

    Or does work from home not work out?

    From a corporate financial perspective it is a win to offload the expense of buildings, power, heating/cooling, etc. to individual workers.

  37. ckm5

    The exact opposite of what 'West Coast rivals' do....

    Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what most SV/West Coast companies do. Maybe, instead of being so heavy handed, you should actually trust your employees and give them even more responsibility with even more aggressive targets.....

    But, hey, what do I know, I only work for 'West Coast' companies.

  38. Chucke

    Absurd

    I have been a shareholder for many years and am absolutely mortified how a senior manager can institute a regulation that will do nothing but destroy moral and result in lower productivity. When productivity diminishes resulting in higher costs, changes in management are mandatory. It boggles my mind why the CEO of IBM is permitting this change to take place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Absurd

      Managing a company well doesn't have the same positive effect on stock price than cutting head count does. It hasn't for years.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do we fire higher wage, middle-aged people without being sued for age discrimination ?

    Simple.

    Make a rule that says, "Um...yeah...all of you people who decided to move away from the idiotically expensive urban centers so you could live a better standard of living...send your kids to better schools...not live in an apartment...GUESS WHAT? Game over.

    This isn't a question of "relocating". It is designed to get a certain demographic to quit.

    Millennials and H1B Visa holders won't be affected. They are fine living on top of one another.

    Senior Executives (the million dollar a year ones) can afford to live nearby and mind the minions who are left over.

    It's very clever scheme, actually.

    If you are not being treated like an individual, and your individual contribution isn't valuable enough to warrant IBM accommodating remote work, then either you or your mission are not very important. Take the hint. Leave.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strange that IBM is doubling back on their work from home standard. IBM was the leader in work from home and remote working. I always thought it made a ton of sense. The worker wins in that they have more control over their schedule, don't have to spend time commuting, etc. IBM wins because they don't have to pay for millions upon millions of dollar of real estate with millions of dollars of annual maintenance, taxes, heating/cooling/power, cleaning, etc. IBM could also put this forward to workers as a benefit, which it is, even though providing the benefit actually saves them money. The only concern that people have is that workers will not work as hard if they are working from home. That is totally unfounded, IMO, though. They are likely to work longer hours because there is no start time and end time to the work day. Also, if someone is going to slack off when working from home, they are probably going to slack off in the office as well.

    1. willsmith888

      This about an "executive" that does not understand the business. And a CEO that hired her. Both need to be shown the door immediately. People that can sell will leave and you cannot replace them for a long time. People that do not understand how sales work should never be allowed within 5 miles of sales people. My first introduction to how sales works was when I was to attend an important closing meeting and the salesman had one of his assistants take me aside and explain that I should never say anything if there is a long pause in the discussion because the salesman is either asking for the order or is looking to gain agreement on a critical issue. Technology salesmen that can succeed in top corporate environment are worth their weight in gold and this poor excuse for an executive is totally clueless about how people close multi-million dollar technology deals. If they lose one top sales person as a result of this then she has cost IBM far more than she can ever replace by making "strategic" decisions which we already know she is unqualified to make.

      And let's look at the model used for this decision, Yahoo. Yahoo's core business is worth less than zero, that should tell you how successful Mayer has been at Yahoo! Is that a model that IBM should emulate? Pathetic!

  41. BigLJ

    tHE CORE PROBLEM -

    Promoting an airhead to CMO in order to meet arbitrary diversity targets is self-flagellation. Last chance to sell your IBM shares!

  42. Eric Idle

    "...and hopefully have fun."

    As soon as a Management Yank uses the word "fun" you know it's BS, and the whip is going to come out for the galley slaves to make them sing whilst they row.

    I'm H, A, P, P, Y

    (thwack!!)

    I'm H, A, P, P, Y

    (thwack!!)

    NOW! Ramming speed! thwack! thwack! thwack! (are we having fun yet?)

  43. Milton Silver badge

    "... there is something about a team being more powerful, more impactful, more creative, and frankly hopefully having more fun when they are shoulder to shoulder. Bringing people together creates its own X Factor."

    What amazing bullcrap. The quality of teams is about the people in them, and their leadership—it's got very little to do with whether they have to smell each other's sandwiches or get to have meaningful moments around the water cooler.

    I assume there is some real reason behind this—perhaps to encourage some folks to leave, without having to make them redundant?

    Mayer's series of disastrous decisions at Yahoo notwithstanding, there is something truly hilarious in tech companies—tech companies!— insisting their staff cannot do remote working.

    Here's a little hint for IBM: when your business is a mess, don't waste your time looking for scapegoats among your workers or their practices, tempting though it always is to pick on those who are easy targets. Instead, look at your management: are they leaders, politicians or bean-counters? If it's not the first, there's your problem. And you won't solve it by pissing off your workforce.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Here's a little hint for IBM: when your business is a mess, don't waste your time looking for scapegoats among your workers or their practices, tempting though it always is to pick on those who are easy targets. Instead, look at your management: are they leaders, politicians or bean-counters? If it's not the first, there's your problem. And you won't solve it by pissing off your workforce.

      Additionally; how many of those people being forced back into the offices because there aren't other non-IBM opportunities available are going to spend their time finding new and creative ways to screw the company from within?

  44. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and a lot of time working with teams [...]"

    "There is only one recipe I know for success [...] That's the recipe I have always relied on and counted on [...]"

    "Bringing people together creates its own X Factor."

    Ugh. Well, as far as BS goes, this one is gold.

    Thinking a long time, just to come up with the only recipe you know, in other words with the same old crap? Wow, I've got to use that in my next performance interview. I'm sure accolades will follow right away.

    Seriously, why is she even still working for IBM and not a member of the current cabinet?

  45. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    Last gasp of a dinosaur

    These are the dying gasps of a dinosaur. By consolidating into a few main offices they will be able to fire everyone next year and replace productive workers with cheap H1B's ... but it won't help.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Last gasp of a dinosaur

      These are the dying gasps of a dinosaur. By consolidating into a few main offices they will be able to fire everyone next year and replace productive workers with cheap H1B's ... but it won't help.

      They're trying to shrink the company to the point where it can be bought out by some 5-yr-old startup for pennies on the dollar, and the startup will simply chop it up into pieces and sell off the chunks not covered in maggots, then throw out the rest.

  46. Howard Hanek
    Pint

    Queens Pawn to.......?

    I long for those days when being the Queen's Pawn was just part of an interesting game. Will IBM ever recover it's former glory(and it WAS glorious)? Doubtful. That requires R&D, the cultivation of talent and a good PR staff.

    1. willsmith888

      Re: Queens Pawn to.......?

      It is doubtful, but remember IBM in the 70s literally bet the entire company on a single development idea and product line, the IBM 360 mainframe computer. I do not remember all the figures but the R&D costs would have clearly bankrupted the company if the product failed. Instead, it cornered the market on computers in that era. I do not know of another large successful company in history that ever made that kind of gamble and won. They earned their position in the marketplace and made money by the shovels full again a well-earned profit. IBM also made what might have been a strategic mistake in making the IBM personal computer an open standards machine but the world is a far better place for that decision although IBM did benefit like it would have if it had been a proprietary architecture.

      So, IBM is a company unlike any other given those kinds of decisions. There were obviously other that failed like the PS2 OS2 operating system that was bungled in so many ways. It was superior in every way to windows but IBM lacked the marketing and sales expertise to make it a success in a market they just did not understand. And remember in this business CEOs are very important, John Akers the CEO at the time of the IBM PC was simply far out of his depth, he knew virtually nothing about marketing and it showed. I am not a fan but if Lew Gerstner had been the CEO in the early days of the IBM PC it is most likely IBM would have reached a size and with profits that would have dwarfed any company in the history of the US and the world. OK now I am off my soapbox but I hope you have gained some insight into IBM, and its impact on the history of technology.

      Just remember that while Apple is making all the profits they have had little real impact on history while IBM has really changed the world with their decisions and products.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Queens Pawn to.......?

        If Gerstner had been CEO in the early days, IBM would have imploded worse than HP; incredibly, Gerstner's personnel policies actually lost more money than they saved (on total cost of ownership type basis) and no one sued him for it. Palmisano had quite a bit of talent in certain areas, but running a company wasn't one of them-- he played Wall Street like a virtuoso but had to bail when the 20EPS train clearly was derailing. Rometty was late ejecting the Failed Policy 20EPS (almost, too late, lost a lot of very good people to competitors) although as a plus she finally stopped much of the toxic Gerstner idiocy. The jury is still out on Rometty. There may not be enough smart people left to row the ship out of the whirlpool and she will be blamed for any failures rightly or wrongly.

  47. b0dapest

    Thought Long and Hard....

    Impressive that she thought so long and hard about this when she joined the company not 5 months ago. Even negotiating real estate for such a move would take longer than that. Agree with the article - this is a great way to downsize without raising the ire of the current US administration. IBM can then hire ‘new collar’ workers (i.e. college grads living at home) for pennies on the dollar. Before the great move to telecommute 14 years ago, IBMers weren't really set up to work at home - with very basic VPNs, no cellphones, old laptops etcetc. You worked long hours in the office but when you went home you left your laptop at work and had a work/life balance and could put work aside. Employees clamoured to work at home when offered but quickly learned that the needs of 'productivity' meant any commute time was gobbled up by extra hours of work (obv.) but then your evenings, weekends, vacations were always including a good chunk of worktime. Expectations to check your emails late at night (tested by management with late night strategy emails) became common and those in a sales/delivery role, working until passed midnight for weeks leading up to the crucial ‘quarter-end’. The genius switcheroo is going to be getting employees to telecommute and then make up those hours they wasted in the car or on transit in the evenings and weekends and what’s left of their vacations. They tried this for everyone in Markham, Canada, last year - forcing employees to attend education meetings and taking attendance. These would be 2 hours seminars about our new offerings/products - probably a good idea in theory - but imagine 84 slides of marketing BS on a product you never sell, never have clients who would want to buy, that there’s no developed market for yet. They didn’t even have elevator pitches for these products yet! Anyway - there was mass rebellion and for now the orange-toned, syrup wearing, cheezy suited CEO of IBM Canada (wow Trump will like him) had to park his fury of not getting his way and allow people to telecommute for a few months more.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please share via social media in the US!

    This isn't getting enough exposure.

    The kicker of all this is that no one talks about how working shoulder to shoulder at fancy offices in NYC don't even provide telephones or privacy. Employees are expected to use their own cell phones to conduct calls. And what's better is there are phone booths that have an hour max time limit-- but somehow are usually occupied by visiting execs who come in and claim them for the day. Try being "agile" and having time to think in an office environment that's as loud as a trading room floor.

    This is a poorly executed stunt all around. Senior people are being replaced with junior people and they will lose a massive knowledge base.

    The title CMO gets tossed around like candy - there are tons of them and 95% of them haven't ever done real marketing.

    Goodbye and good riddance.

  49. eldakka Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I can see a lot of IBMs competitors picking up new marketing stuff who are very well versed in IBMs marketing strategies, customer lists, contract details and other very useful intelligence who will feel no loyalty to keep those secrets in the near future.

  50. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    micromanagement

    It just doesn't work and p* off your staff immensely, who will then be less productive.

    Been there, done that, am leaving just because of micromanaging. Can't work like that.

    Also, expecting your staff to work their full 8 hours per day just is plain daft, workers aren't robots or machinery.

    Of course, people will goof off now and then, but it just is to catch a breather and relax after doing some work. Myself, I most certainly will not sit for 4 hours straight at my desk, I will walk around a bit, stretch my legs and so on, before resuming my work.

    A good manager will give his/her workers realistic goals and leave them alone. A good worker will ask for more work when finished.

  51. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Queen to King, chedkmate.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sirius Cybernetics

    Is it time for IBM to change it's name to " Sirius Cybernetics Corporation"? (and we know what happened to the Marketing Department of that company...)

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod off, the cheap way.

    I'm Bloody Marvellous or Idiot Bleeding Management, IBM have lost the plot, actually they lost it years ago, glad I escaped their asylum ~20 years ago. Still it'll be cheaper to fuck off the plebs than have to pay them off with a 'package'...

  54. Brian Allan 1

    A great way to piss off most of your staff and cut the numbers you actually have to fire!!

  55. willsmith888

    Someone that does not understand IBM business

    This is clearly a person that has no idea how IBM and its customers operate. Sales (often referred to as marketing in IBM) work with customers or are preparing to work with customers. It is absolutely irrelevant where an IBM office is as long as it does not get in the way of meeting customers. Ms. Michelle Peluso is so unfamiliar with how IBM and other technologies company operate is the only explanation for such flawed reasoning. I do not believe any technology company dealing with worldwide customers would attempt this unwise implementation of a flawed policy. In many large companies vendor sales and support teams often have offices assigned in customer office space or at least working areas like mobile offices to assist in the effective working with the customer. And what advantage is working in a shared space with other sales people when often the information they require is found across the country or the globe in development labs or technical support centers. But of course, if Ms. Peluso knew this she would not attempt such a flawed strategy.

  56. Adlet
    FAIL

    DIE IBM DIE!!

    DIE ALREADY! PLEASE!! Why won't you die!?

    F**** anyone with a disability! We don't want any cripples working for us! We're IBM!!

    I don't work for IBM, but even I am outraged! I feel for ya guys. That's total BS!! I hope enough of your key players tell her to shove it up her $$$ and leave after changing a few key infrastructure passwords! Setting all the DNS entries to 69.172.201.153 would be a great start! O! O! OOO!!!!

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think Michelle Peluso has made a BAD decision, or maybe she is the front man for it, BUT , here's the result.

    1) People are quitting--a higher percentage than estimated

    2) No one is doing any work--the employees are traumatized and looking for other jobs

    3) Systems that are already broken because of changes made last year--like leads from crazy "New Work of Marketing" where the website doesn't transfer leads to back-end-databases, well these things just won't get fixed now. Now the people that could fix the broken systems and broken and demoralized.

    4) Competitors are raiding the talent.

    IBM, this will hurt you worse in the long term, than you will pain your employees in the short term.

    1. phyllisrfox

      Replying to Anonymous Coward's comment from 3 hours ago. Outstanding comments. It has become increasingly more difficult to follow the ongoing discussion here. I expect that eventually theregister will turn off comments on this article. I am wondering if we should move our discussion to some other place like: groups.io/gIBM or the Yahoo IBM group.

  58. mlinus

    Smart way to get rid of long-term (older) workers without paying severance

    If you look at the 6 locations, it's pretty clear younger workers will be best positioned to make the move. Alternatively, the people least able to move or even deal with commutes to places like Cambridge or San Francisco are older workers with roots and families. What a genius way to get rid of a lot of that expensive top layer of older staff, with no severance.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing is the YUGE IBM Bloomfield Co site

    Who wants to move to NYC / NY ?

  60. fredesmite Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    The OUTSOURCING WILL CONTINUE

    Until we see an improvement in morale

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