IBM lets dog eat its home workers

Biggish Blue has been an enthusiastic supporter of its staff working from home, but in less than a year into her tenure as IBM’s chief marketing officer, Michelle Peluso has decided she does not like it one bit.

In a video message, Peluso explained the “only one recipe I know for success”. Its ingredients included great people, the right tools, a mission, analysis of results, and one more thing: “really creative and inspiring locations”.

She said that IBM had decided to “co-locate” the US marketing department, about 2,600 people, which meant that all teams would now work together, “shoulder to shoulder,” from one of six different locations — Atlanta, Raleigh, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and New York.

Employees who worked primarily from home would be required to commute, and employees who worked remotely or from an office that was not on the list – or an office that was on the list, but different than the one to which their teams had been assigned – would be required to either move or look for another job.

Similar announcements had already been made in other departments, and more are expected. At IBM, which has embraced remote work for decades, a large proportion of employees work outside of central hubs.

Peluso trots out the same sort of stuff that managers have been saying about remote working for decades.

“When you are playing phone tag with someone is quite different than when you’re sitting next to someone and can pop up behind them and ask them a question,” Peluso says.

However most remote workers are not like that. Telephone tag does not happen if someone is working from home because there is only one number to a house and the person usually answers it. Telephone tag however happens a lot when someone is in a big office.

We also think it is unlikely that one of Peluso’s workers would just show up in her office if they want a chat.