back to article IBM UK: Oh, remote workers. We want to be colocated with you again

IBM is clamping down on its remote workers in Britain, with the Global Technology Services team being centralised in one of a number of as yet unnamed “colocation hubs”. Tosca Colangeli, IBM’s UK veep of GTS, warned employees in a recording, seen by The Register, that a “big feature” of 2017 is a “desire to be colocated …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost Savings

    How does kitting out new offices and possibly paying relocation save anything?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Cost Savings

      It gets rid of people who are too far away to commute and unwilling to move.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost Savings

        What if they are good?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cost Savings

          They sink to their level of competence.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Cost Savings

          What if they are good?

          Since when has that ever mattered?

        3. Joseph Haig

          Re: Cost Savings

          What if they are good?

          If they are good then they will be on higher salaries so extra savings!

        4. jasper pepper

          Re: Cost Savings

          What if they are good?

          Because they are irrelevant to this year's management bonuses. Most likely the shit caused by getting rid of competent staff won't hit the fan until next year (or later) and by then this year's bonus will have been pocketed and new management imperatives unveiled.

        5. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Cost Savings

          "What if they are good?"

          After 'skills rebalancing exercises' IBM hold 'breakage meetings' to see where they are now breaching SLAs etc after letting too many people go, so if you survived the cut, and your accounts are in the green, expect to be handed a pile of crap to fix. Then, when everything is green, they'll look to sack a few more people again.

        6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Cost Savings

          "What if they are good?"

          Management does not recognise any variation in ability when it comes to reducing headcount.

    2. VanguardG

      Re: Cost Savings

      It actually has absolutely nothing to do with saving any money. Its about control, and efficiency. See, people who telecommute get up at about 7 or so, have a shower, dress, eat some breakfast, and sit down at their desk at 8 with a tall cup of coffee. They are relaxed, comfortable, and occasionally distracted. People who work in an office, get up at 5:30, shower, get dressed, eat, and get in the car with a tall cup of coffee at about 6:45 to get to the office at 8, stressed from traffic, angry, "enjoying" their colleagues who may have skipped their shower, and distracted every 20 minutes by people wandering by their cubicle to chat, random noises, and other factors.

      IBM has developed this idea that, somehow, their successes in the 70s and 80s were because of this centralized, stress-drive culture. Employees spent 3-4 hours per day just going between home and work, and then work and home...thereby lengthening their commitment to their work to 12-13 hours per day, five days a week, instead of just 9. The longer hours necessary also made people eat convenient poor-quality foods, usually from the drive-through at the fast-food eateries, laden with fats and cholesterol. Eventually, the combination of stress due to the slow crawl of traffic faced 10 times per week, combined with the poor diet and lack of exercise led to heart disease, and early death for employees.

      For the employer, that was a win-win - middle aged employees would die, leaving large amounts of unvested money in the retirement plan, and opened up jobs for younger employees, with no risk of being sued for age discrimination or payment of expensive severance packages.

      Its not really about saving money - its about killing the workers more efficiently.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost Savings

        VanguardG: "Its not really about saving money - its about killing the workers more efficiently."

        Yes and we know that IBM are past masters of introducing efficiency into killings.

        Lets say "they have form"

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Cost Savings

          Get a team in the same building, and better yet next to each other, and you will definitely see improved productivity. That 30 minute conference call can be dispensed with in a 2 minute conversation. That misunderstanding ironed out over a brew rather than a flame war.

          That said, companies that mandate you can never work from home under any circumstances are just dicks, and you owe it to yourself to find a better job.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cost Savings

            In a normal company I'd agree with you. But most IBMers work with people in other countries. I could go to any UK office and it'd be irrelevant since every colleague is either in US, India or Philippines.

      2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Cost Savings

        @Vanguard, After they have exterminated all the greybeards who actually know a thing or two they will have young'ens who are not even diaper (US terminology) ready. Then they will be another clueless hipster collective masquerading as a company.

      3. Shannon Jacobs

        Transformation away from careers

        Interesting analysis, but a bit too hyperbolic. In particular, I think that it discounts "respect for the individual", which actually had a relevance era at IBM that lasted much longer than the google's "don't be evil" motto. I don't think IBM ever wanted to kill employees (and doesn't want it now because of the paperwork), but the old IBM did want full-career lifetime commitments, and the IBMers of those days returned the favor with extra and in many cases extraordinary results.

        My observations of recent years convince me that they are transforming the company in a different way. The most important data point was the number of new hires: Around 70,000 without growing the company. When you do the math, normal attrition of a long-career company gives a value around 20,000 to 30,000 employees per year, so the "excess attrition" is around 50,000 now. The new pressure on remote workers is just a new target for attrition.

        Rather than being a career company, the new IBM will have three groups of employees. There will be a small elite kernel of career people, but most employees will be in two transient groups. One will be fresh hires right out of university, and most of them will be filtered and eliminated within two or three years. They are essentially forced to look at a fairly large number of needles looking for the sharpest ones. The other group will probably be the largest, consisting of short-term contractors brought in to do the actual grunt work for the actual paying customers. Speedy onboarding and offboarding in the new IBM lingo.

        As someone whose career was largely associated with IBM and even as a shareholder, the changes bother me a lot. However it's just part of the evolution of our economic system to evil companies that give us only the "freedom" to seek the least evil options.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cost Savings

      "How does kitting out new offices and possibly paying relocation save anything?"

      The people concerned are by definition:

      - GTS employees (i.e. consultants).

      - Not working from a client site.

      - Senior enough to be able to swan around as they please (juniors are most definitely not working from home multiple days per week).

      This means they are usually both well paid and at least partially part of the business overhead rather than yielding fees. So you've got two choices. Get onto client sites where you're billable and no one cares. Come into the office where your manager will suddenly start showering you with shit. Or, most likely, get managed out and have your salary hived off to hire eight new apprentices who will all absolutely be working 50 hour weeks by default because they don't know any better. Or, even more likely, get managed out and have your role shifted to india.

  2. Infidellic_

    "Samsung House"

    Should this be "Sampson House"? http://www-05.ibm.com/uk/locations/sampson_house.html

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: "Samsung House"

      Yes - Samsung House is the one with the Smoking Area inside...

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: "Samsung House"

        Yes - Samsung House is the one with the Smoking Area inside...

        ISWYDT.

        Otherwise known as a dedicated place for taking Notes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Samsung House"

        Ironically I do recall there being a smoking room in Sampson House several years ago. And a bar. This was back when it was occupied (owned?) by Lloyds. My god it was a 70's dump. I really hope they've refurbished the place since I was last in there.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    "Consolidation in the IBM saw some STG folk centralised to one floor rather than being on four"

    At IBM you too can be as productive as a battery hen.

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    This is just a way to get rid of people

    Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc. It's far cheaper to ratchet up the everyday shitiness level a bit and hope attrition takes care of the situation for you.

    1. Ogi

      Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

      > Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc. It's far cheaper to ratchet up the everyday shitiness level a bit and hope attrition takes care of the situation for you.

      I am curious as to how that will work. So you refuse to leave by the deadline, and refuse to quit as well. What can they do? Not sure about the US (where apparently you can be fired for any reason what so ever) but it would be harder to do that in the UK.

      Presumably that is why here they didn't set a deadline for you to have to start coming into the office. Which makes me ask the question, what if you just keep delaying? How long could you keep working from home, if there is no deadline to move, and you have no intention of moving. Maybe just keep pushing the "potential timeframe" further and further out.

      If you are good the local manager may tolerate it, or if they allow you to come in once a month or something for a general meeting. It might work.

      Thing is, those more competent employees are the ones most likely to resist this, or leave. They would have little trouble to find another job, so are more likely to just quit and go elsewhere.

      It is the ones with poor competence who will stay, as they are unlikely to find a better job, and consider the hassle of relocating/commuting easier than trying to blag their way into an equivalently paying job somewhere else.

      1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

        Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

        "I am curious as to how that will work."

        You don't want to get rid of everyone at one time. The point of the deadline is to force people's hands - if not everybody wants to - or indeed can - move, you will lose some of your workforce but you need to keep a certain number to actually do the work. Then, in a few months time, when everyone has gotten used to the almost intolerable workload, you lose another group of people who have been ground down over the intervening time - another saving.

        At this point, the same workload gets shared between fewer bodies and more become hacked off and leave - another saving.

        At this point, the same workload gets shared between fewer bodies and more become hacked off and leave - another saving.

        I guess you can work out where this is heading... Plus, you keep attracting youngsters who will work for less pay than their more experienced colleagues which drives costs down still further...

        I could go on, but I don't want to give my bosses any more ideas...

      2. TitterYeNot

        Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

        "I am curious as to how that will work. So you refuse to leave by the deadline, and refuse to quit as well. What can they do? Not sure about the US (where apparently you can be fired for any reason what so ever) but it would be harder to do that in the UK."

        As far as I'm aware (and I did look into this a while ago when my employer moved offices), as long as there's nothing specific in your employment contract saying you agree to go wherever they send you, in the UK they would have to make you redundant. There's no specific distance specified in employment law covering this situation (the often quoted 30 miles is untrue), but the word 'reasonable' is used a lot to apply to both the employer and employee.

        In other words if you are required to travel an extra 10 miles to work and have access to a car and public transport, but refuse to do so, an employment tribuneral would probably say you were not being reasonable and so you would not be eligible for redundancy payments - you would be deemed to have left your job voluntarily. If your employer expected you to travel an extra 150 miles to work however, the tribuneral would probably judge your employer as acting unreasonably, and you would be eligible for a payout.

        It also depends on circumstances - if an employee is a disabled single parent who cannot drive for example, and their employer expects them to travel an extra 10 miles to work to an office where there is no public transport, the employer would probably be deemed to be the unreasonable party and would have to pay redundancy (as long as the employee has the minimum employment duration, which I believe is 2 years.)

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

          And of course not all miles are the same.

          I was once not accepted for a (permie) post as the commute was an approx 60 mile drive and their argument was I would be not tempted to stay with them for long as I would not enjoy all that travel / be tired with that amount of commuting.

          I told them that my (at that time) sub 20 mile commute (both ways) in lots of dire gridlocked traffic took far longer in "peak times" than the longer mileage, but noticeable shorter journey times to their location at peak times due to it being mainly Mway / A roads that were actually moving at OKish speeds (most of the time) instead of nose to tail gridlock where (sadly brief) periods of exceeding 10 MPH merited a metaphorical round of applause.

          I can think of a few commutes near me where adding on a "mere" 10 extra miles would add at least an additional 3 hours total (both ways combined) journey time at "peak" time and probably more, so could be seen as unreasonable when investigated closely

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

            "And of course not all miles are the same."

            Reminds me of talking to a German engineer at a conference once. We had been talking about commutes, and he remarked that he currently lived 70km from his job. "How long does that take?" someone asked, and the reply came back "Oh, about 25 minutes."

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

        Easy, they schedule meetings at the office for 8am every day.

        Don't want to move, fine but attendance of the meetings is compulsory.

        Enjoy your 3am wake up each day.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

          "Easy, they schedule meetings at the office for 8am every day.

          Don't want to move, fine but attendance of the meetings is compulsory.

          Enjoy your 3am wake up each day."

          Constructive dismissal. Tribunal, payout. Next!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

            "Constructive dismissal. Tribunal, payout. Next!"

            Asking someone to be in the office each day isn't constructive dismissal by any stretch of the imagination.

            1. John H Woods

              Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

              "Asking someone to be in the office each day isn't constructive dismissal by any stretch of the imagination" -AC

              Your imagination might need stretching. One example... you work at a local office which is closed; your employers tell you you now work from home; several years later they insist you attend a much more distant office everyday.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc

      Laying people off need not be expensive, if you've been careful[1] to not offer more than the statutory minimum redundancy payment. Presumably IBM do pay more, however.

      [1] other adjectives may apply.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc

        IBM do not pay more. Statutory legal minimum payouts. Being applied to the round of redundancies that are currently running.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc

        IBM used to pay over statutory minimum, but the latest, and previous rounds were at statutory minimum. The latest has a voluntary option at statutory minimum. Why anyone would take that is beyond me, might as well wait until the involuntary scope is announced, and take the extra salary in the meantime.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laying people off is expensive - redundancy payments etc

        From what I've heard, statutory minimum is exactly what they offer.....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is just a way to get rid of people

      "I am curious as to how that will work. So you refuse to leave by the deadline, and refuse to quit as well. What can they do? Not sure about the US (where apparently you can be fired for any reason what so ever) but it would be harder to do that in the UK."

      Whilst in the UK you cannot be dismissed without reason, you can be disciplined and dismissed for "failing to follow a reasonable instruction".

      And yes, you could argue the term "reasonable" in this case, but you would be arguing it AFTER you lose your job, at the tribunal.

  5. kmac499

    Marketing tele-script

    IBM :- Hello this is IBM can we interest you in a managed cloud based teleworker solution?

    Cust :- Ooh that's interesting we've thought of right sizing our office and improving work life\balance

    IBM :- Too true, it can save you money and help retain experienced staff with families by reducing long commutes.

    Cust :- Sounds good tell me more

    IBM :- All your IP can be centralized, secured and accesible to all under control with automatic backups.

    Cut :- Great we had a flood from the upstairs office last year; nearly killed our servers

    IBM :- It will also allow for a 24/7 presence for colleagues\customers in other time zones

    Cust :- Wonderful we have expansion plans. You must really find it a great way to work

    IBM :- We don't use it

    Cust :- Brrrrrrrr.... Click

  6. adam payne Silver badge

    “working space” = your desk

    "hubs of colocation" = offices

    “new meeting pods” = meeting rooms

    “stand-up design thinking” what's wrong with sit down thinking? does standing up make you smarter or come up with better ideas?

    Stop it with the buzz words, they are pointless and are not going to make your statement any more exciting.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      > “new meeting pods” = meeting rooms

      To be fair, based on meeting "pods" I've seen and been in, "meeting room" doesn't really apply.

      Typically, you'll have some traditional meeting rooms (and call them meeting rooms), and then in each large multi-team office you'll have a bunch of pre-fabbed plastic enclosures (about the same size as 4 portaloos) - the pods. And when you're in one, pod definitely feels like the right word

      But yeah, the rest of it is shite

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "does standing up make you smarter or come up with better ideas?"

      For some reason I can't explain, I do find walking around helps me think. That's one reason I like to work from home. If you get up and start wandering around an open plan office, it looks kind of crazy and it's quite distracting for everyone else.

    3. Steve Button

      “stand-up design thinking” instead of sitting around a table like a committee and talking for hours, you stand arond a white board and pitch in with ideas. The meetings go much more quickly, and you tend to focus on the problem. Post-It notes might be involved.

      People don't tend to sit there checking laptops and phones.

      It does actually kinda work, but I can't think of a better name for it.

      1. Fading Silver badge
        Holmes

        Stand up design thinking =

        We don't have enough space, tables or chairs if nobody quits and they all actually come into the office.......

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "It does actually kinda work"

        You mean it's a faster way to produce bullshit?

        "but I can't think of a better name for it"

        Bovine laxative.

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Stand up meetings

          Stand-ups do tend to go quicker; mainly because people are lazy, and want to go back to sitting down. So the usual quibbling over verbiage and violent agreements (two+ people arguing for the same point using different words) happens less often. Also that "last question" that sparks a half-hour discussion/debate doesn't get asked.

    4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      "Stop it with the buzz words"

      IBM should be fined for the amount of bulllshit there

      " they are pointless and are not going to make your statement any more exciting."

      Basically they are claiming to 'negotiate' on their 'come into the office' rule by renaming the office.

    5. John Styles

      “stand-up design thinking”

      They stand to reason

      1. theblackhand Silver badge

        "highly available" - ensuring that you only shoot yourself in one foot at a time. Be patient, you can shoot yourself in the other foot next year....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

    obviously there are exceptions but remote workers sat at home quickly become the biggest loafers in any company.

    It only gets a pass because the boss wants some of that action for themselves.

    Sales of distant caves and abuse letters to bt about broadband speeds should decline if

    fellow behemoths like hp follow ibm.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      "obviously there are exceptions but remote workers sat at home quickly become the biggest loafers in any company."

      I used to work from home and while I might take a break I would work far longer hours to compensate. In addition I often found myself on conference calls in the evening with US colleagues because I was the only one around. So in one sense I had less of a presence, in another I had to make my presence more felt.

      I doubt this was just me at all. And if you were worried by people slacking off then you're not doing your job as a manager whether they're physically in front of you or not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      There is an easy answer to this: measure output, not input. If they're getting as much work done as their colleagues in the office, who cares how much Jeremy Kyle they watch.

    3. Colabroad

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      The other half gets far more done working from home, without the constant interruptions, meetings, and questions she can focus so much better on her own work.

      Personally I'd be far more tempted to watch TV, surf the web, or paint my toy soldiers so I appreciate having an office and being able to go into "work mode", plus hardware support is much trickier from a remote location.

      It's almost like different people work differently and trying to impose a "one size fits all" philosophy to working is counter productive and short sighted.

      What are the sweepstakes on how long it take IBM so start encouraging remote working one all the experienced, knowledgeable, high paid workers leave?

      1. theModge

        Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

        What are the sweepstakes on how long it take IBM so start encouraging remote working one all the experienced, knowledgeable, high paid workers leave?

        My pound says directly after the current board have left, declaring this a resounding success and collect a bonus proportional to the money saved.

    4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      I worked from home, and I had SLAs and progress reports to meet, so you know, work got done. Oh yeah, and the methodologies my colleagues and I (who all worked from home) helped get us ISO 9001 accreditation. It's amazing how much you can concentrate on work, when you aren't distracted by colleagues talking about football, soaps, and personal crises.

    5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      I do not recall a lot of daytime TV being available at 7 am when dealing with Indians and Aussies and at 9pm when dealing with West Coast USAisians which cannot be arsed to get into the office before 9 am their time.

      I can sort-a tolerate doing either when working from my home office as my commute prior to the meeting and after the meeting is ~ 15 seconds walking up or down stairs.

      If you are asking me to do that from an office the only answer you are going to get start with F*** and finishes with OFF.

      If you are asking me to do take BOTH of these from home and also work from the office, I will on first instance have no qualms as far as nuking you with an employment lawyer and a tribunal too. In second instance after you have been nuked I may ask to explain how taking 2 hours of time overlap between the timezones due to commuting improves productivity. Nuking comes first though as any idiot requesting it deserves it.

      By the way - my last 10 years of work have always involved dealing with at least one of the TZ overlaps/offsets if not both and I expect the future 10 to be no different. This is why any ideas to be permanently colocated in a HUB will also be met with a "sure, now make the Californians come to work at 6 am" answer.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: unpopular comment with daytime tv fans

      "obviously there are exceptions but remote workers sat at home quickly become the biggest loafers in any company."

      From what are you extrapolating this? Are you telling us is that either this is you or would be if it was on offer to you?

  8. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Tosca just wants to be able to survey her domain (and wage slaves) which is tricky if they aren't all coralled into a pen (like pigs to the slaughter). Typical upper management with too much time on their hands.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Of course she does - she even says how wonderful it is to survey teams of people working and talking (she assumes about work) in a busy office.

      It's even good for short periods - the improved ability to ask colleagues for their views and assistance makes the less able workers more productive.

      It doesn't matter that the bigger contributors are handicapped. That problem shows up later.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New managers have to be seen to do something, so rather than risking any new ideas that could fail, they go back to how it was before the previous senior manager took over. After a few years you notice a pattern in the U-turns.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Co-location work makes us free

    I wonder whether they're going to run railway lines to these so-called "co-location hubs".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warwick

    When I worked at IBM Warwick they were closing down one building and renting it out, and encouraging people to WFH to... erm, save money.

    Ideally, you spend some of your time at home and come into the office at least once a week to get some face-2-face time with colleagues.

    But this is clearly a sinister way to reduce headcount, without redundancies.

  11. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    London

    So, .. workers are spread around the country, often paying for their own office space.

    Somehow it makes sense to move or transport all those people to the city with the most expensive office space, the highest living costs and the most overloaded transport system in the country ? So you have to pay them more and add 2 hours travel to their working day ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: London

      "So you have to pay them more and add 2 hours travel to their working day ?"

      IBM are hoping they can ignore the first bit, and the second bit is their employees' problem, not IBMs. Of course it's possible this is just another American Executive dictact from above that turns out to only be workable in territories where employees have fewer rights than indentured servants - i.e. the Land of the Free(ly eploited).

      The really interesting bit about how this applies to the IBM South Bank location is that I've heard that building was always ram packed, and you won't get a desk unless you turn up well before 8am. And that's in former times when the building was mainly set up for hotdesking, presumably used mostly by mobile staff who were only there for some percentage of their time. Have they really let so many staff go from that location that there's now ample room for everyone to work there full time, including the extra heads that are moving from Sampson? If they retain the hotdesking setup - which is a hateful way to work if you're there every day - I wonder what happens if there's no desk for you when you arrive at the start of your contracted hours. Do they expect you to wage some sort of arms race with your colleagues of who can turn up earliest and get one of the few desks that are available?

      Maybe whichever C-level came up with this idea was fed up wasting money on cubicle space sitting idle whilst its usual occupants worked from home. I doubt they were based in London, though.

  12. Am I Consing Yet?
    Coat

    Text is clearer than speech

    I picked up on this...

    ...easier for co-workers to “clarify things” with each other when they sat “side by side” in a shared “working space”...

    I'm going to assume they mean that speaking yields more clarity than written language. In my experience that is a false assertion, but I accept it depends on your relative skills with spoken and written language.

    Or am I assuming the wrong meaning? Perhaps they mean that people who sit together will know what their neighbours are working on by overhearing, whether they want to or not, and will therefore have a better understanding when that neighbour tells them something. I'm not sure I believe this either. In my world (software development) we benefit a lot from having things written down, and proximity limits how much information we capture because people find it easier to speak than type. I often work remotely and colleagues phone me, saying "it's easier than typing". Yes, it's easier to speak than to type, but it's not easier to listen and remember than to read and re-read.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Text is clearer than speech

      Yeah, there's a fix for that. Just end every phone conversation with "OK, just summarise all that in an email and I'll get right onto it". And if they don't, well they've given you carte blanche to skip anything in the job spec that you didn't fancy doing - there's no proper record of what they asked for, after all. Even the dimmest ones eventually learn they can't bollox their way through this.

      Obviously don't try this with anyone too high up the pecking order!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why would you agree to the hassle & cost of moving to be near a "hub" when IBM's declared strategy is to switch the vast majority of its non-sales workforce to low-wage economies as quickly as possible ?

  14. sjsmoto

    Step 2

    Now that you're all here together, you can begin training your replacements.

  15. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Been there done that

    There were more people (lots more) than there were desks or even chairs for. The message was

    'Get to work by 07:00 or else you don't get a parking spot let alone a desk.'

    Those who were any good took the message and went. The dross was left to fight it out.

    IBM seem to be following the same path. It may reduce costs a bit but what about productivity eh? If you are fighting for a desk or even a chair you are not overly concerned about doing anything productive now are you.

    Glad I got out of IT when I did. My bees are much less trouble. Though if they get annoyed they can fight back big time.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Been there done that

      "My bees are much less trouble."

      I hope you're paying them properly.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my opinion

    it is good to meet face to face with co-workers from time to time - but as a service provider it seems nonsense to enforce an office full time "just-because"

    This can cause difficulty for customers as well as the staffers.

    It is also against the policy of many governments trying to reduce car journeys etc by enabling people to work from home.

    This all seems a bit draconian and may not have the intended result.

  17. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "Tosca Colangeli, IBM’s UK veep of Systems and Technology Group, warned employees in a recording, seen by The Register, that a “big feature” of 2017 is a “desire to be colocated together in a central location again”."

    Interestingly, you can remove the word " colocated" from that statement without damaging the meaning.

    1. kmac499

      Re: Bah!

      The lawyers made him put in "colocated", to cover the fact when the office is so full you may have to sit on each others knees. or maybe Herman Miller are bringing out a new range of bunk desks.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      "Tosca Colangeli, IBM’s UK veep of Systems and Technology Group, warned employees in a recording, seen by The Register, that a “big feature” of 2017 is a “desire to be colocated together in a central location again”."

      Stevie commented: Interestingly, you can remove the word " colocated" from that statement without damaging the meaning.

      Quite so; it's called tautology, and anyone purporting to be a "veep" should know better than to allow it to happen quite so blatantly.

    3. Chunes

      Re: Bah!

      Funny how she doesn't specify where that desire comes from. The top, I would guess.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Oh the irony...

    I came across this paper http://www-01.ibm.com/industries/government/ieg/pdf/working_outside_the_box.pdf extolling the virtues of teleworking.

  19. bobajob12
    Stop

    Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks

    The root of all this seems to be that even in 2017 some organizations have not realized that people work better in different ways.

    Management is the art of getting the best out of the team that you have in the time you have available. What I see here, and in numerous other examples of management by diktat, is trying to make everyone work in the same way. That is doomed to failure, because people quite simply do not work in the same way. Knowledge work is not like assembly line work.

    To take an example from my own industry, I spend a lot of time at a customer in New Jersey. Some people go into their offices and shut the door so they can think clearly. Other people save their hardest problems for their lunchtime stroll with a colleague, out in the sunshine chatting things over with nary a whiteboard in sight. Some folks like the collaboration spaces where they can sniff markers^W^W draw network diagrams and think visually. Some folks find offices an endless source of distraction, gossip and nonsense and prefer to work in their garden shed.

    In the end, is that really so hard to understand? You either produce good work, and get on with your colleagues, or you don't, in which cases sayonara.

  20. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Another's experience

    My employers has a mix of partial teleworking (3 days a week for many), home-based, and office based. Which group you are in is based on your job and its requirements. In my group we are either partially teleworking or home-based. Other groups are office based but it is pretty obvious if you are in an office based position. Interestingly morale is rather high for all groups as people feel they are being treated like responsible adults. Also, my impression is productivity is higher as befits higher morale.

    Itsy Bitsy Morons apparently has serious mismanagement issues beyond the typical PHB/MBA levels of incompetence. Organizations with high morale seem to be able to more with less and this is a leadership issue.

  21. ZenCoder
    Happy

    Stand up Design Thinking.

    "A rabbi, a priest, and a Lutheran minister want to deliver services and products that empower better human outcomes and client success ... "

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Stand up Design Thinking.

      My first thought on reading your comment was, "that sounds like one of the An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman jokes I used to know as a kid...". Then I felt the hot flush of social stigma as I realized it's not 1980 any more and that sort of thing is Not Acceptable. If anyone needs me, I'll be in room 101 for re-education.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    colocated together

    As opposed to colocated apart

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tosca-cost-cutter

    The lady has form when carrying out the orders from those up high. She butchered ITS (now GTS) when she was last there. She also decimated STG when she was in charge. She not only follows without question but she goes over the top every time. Having her in charge of this co-location shite is bad news for those in GTS.

    Do people realise that in GTS you are a resource to be sold to a customer so you spend almost all of your time on customer sites? If you aren't on customer site then you are on the bench. This means that you can (could) live where ever as the customer paid the travel and accommodation. There is NO point making people work in an office if they happen to be on the bench for a couple of weeks as they would have little to nothing to do.

    They may do some education, but why would you want to sit with a bunch of people you don't know with headphones on?

    IBM for years have been selling sites and downsizing their physical footprint to the point of being fairly ridiculous. Most of the regional hubs are gone. Be interesting to see what they do now this new madness has taken hold.

    I can't see it as anything other than a cost cutting move personally. The way IBM views its employees gets worse every year.

    Good luck with your lunatic plans enacted by fruit-loop. Don't they realise that the people buying will eventually be the people they screwed over?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't they realise that the people buying will eventually be the people they screwed over?

    You might think that would matter. It doesn't. As long as you're on the approved list of vendors, the business just keeps on coming.....

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next Phase .... ?

    >>> The next phase will see the “solutions, and our CSEs and our pricing and TSMs” from the Sampson House premises, also in the capital, to South Bank. That is phase two in our consolidation, so that has worked very well… there is more of that to come”.

    Appears nothing much new here except moving the major deal solution/bid teams from one building to another ... the southern (SO) Deal Hub has been in Sampson House for several years after moving from South Bank when it became increasingly difficult to find sufficient space in South Bank where the team(s) could work together.

    Bid teams were/are typically composed of IBMers from all many parts of the country (and increasinly just before I left, from beyond the UK) so most would be weekly rather than daily commuters for the phases of the deal where being together added significant value - and in my view it generally did so.

    Used to be (before change in role of the assurance team I worked for and then VR in 2015) part of the wider bid teams and was a regular visitor to Sampson (... did Virgin West Coast a power of good in full fare rail tickets to arrive for workshops and reviews starting at 9 o'clock!) and the northern equivalent based in Warwick.

    Move on ... nothing new to see here!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multiple remote location work fine for IBM...

    ... if they are all in India.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Multiple remote location work fine for IBM...

      If you were cynical, you might even see a path of encouraging remote working in order to justify outsourcing everything possible to India.

      I don't see IBM's decline in that way. I think it happened as a power struggle. The short term profit from moving operations to India made managers in charge look good, even as they were burning goodwill with customers. Those managers were given more power, and moving the entire company to India snowballed, It takes years for long-term customers to migrate, and we are now seeing the result.

      IBM's decision to stop making hardware was part of that path. Hardware is often not profitable by narrow accounting, but having a reliable platform enables a very profitable systems business. IBM used to know that. But India isn't good at hardware, so the pitch was made that in-house hardware (that other division) was a drag on the business.

      How long before IBM is entirely in India, and entirely irrelevant?

  27. smurfgenio
    WTF?

    In Brazil we have 3 co-location Hubs. The main one is in Hortolandia - about 120km from São Paulo; Rio de Janeiro; and São Paulo.

    The nearest hub for me is in São Paulo, where I live but, there're no desks available there nor projects. All "opportunities" are in Hortolandia.

    The execs are expecting us to commute 120km every day but even in Hortlandia, there's no room for everyone. People are playing Musical Chairs to get space to work.

    The most pathetic situation is that people are going to the office to be "Agile", have stand up meetings but the reality is that people are just working on Conference Lines just like at Home Office.

    Only when Business, Software and Hardware are in a same spot this co-location would work. Otherwise it's just rubbish...

  28. BMG4ME

    I Like Working in an Office

    I am an IBMer who works at home and would much rather be office based. I believe that having everyone working remotely is one of the biggest reasons the company doesn't feel the same anymore. I like to be able to work at home from time to time but being with your team face ti face is part of the fun of working for a company like IBM.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Like Working in an Office

      You have a strange idea of fun.

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