Another one bites the dust

No more remote work: IBM implements “move or leave” program

Gabriela Motroc
remote work

No Entry sign image via Shutterstock

The Register exclusively reported that IBM is implementing a “move or leave” program; the Big Blue’s US marketing employees will have to work at one of the six main offices in America. However, that’s not the only department that might have to obey the new rules.

Remote work might become a thing of the past as IBM proceeds to implement its “move or leave” program. The Register exclusively reported that the Big Blue’s US marketing department is the first to experience the change but claimed that the program is likely to be applied throughout the company.

The Register cited sources as saying that the marketers are not the only ones to have a taste of the remote work ban. It appears that the tech giant’s Software and Systems unit’s transition towards a “move or leave” program started in 2016. The British technology news website learned that the Big Blue’s US marketing employees must work at one of the six main offices in the United States: New York, San Francisco, Austin, Cambridge, Atlanta, or Raleigh.

Employees in Europe are unlikely to be overlooked: according to The Register, IBMers working in Europe will also have to move into one of the main offices. 

The aim of the program is to boost productivity, morale and teamwork.

Remote work treated as the root of all evil at Yahoo and Reddit

It’s been four years since Marissa Mayer sent an internal memo to Yahoo! employees announcing that remote work will no longer be tolerated.

Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

One year later, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong (who resigned a few months later in November 2014) asked all employees working in the company’s Salt Lake City and New York City offices —which were closed down— to relocate to San Francisco. Wong wrote in a Quora post that Reddit found that “remote work and multiple offices work for some people at some companies, some of the time.”

As it turns out, our teams (within each office) and remote workers did good work, but the separation has kept us from effectively being able to coordinate as well as we needed to on a full-company level. Big efforts that require quick action, deep understanding, and efficient coordination between people at multiple offices just don’t go as well as we (and our users) needed.

The dark side of remote working: burnout

Scott Hanselman, programmer, teacher and speaker, wrote about the disadvantages of being a remote worker on his blog:

I propose that most remote workers work at least as hard, if not more so, than their local counterparts. This is fueled in no small part by guilt and fear.

Hanselman believes that people who work remotely feel guilty because they assume colleagues think they waste time and not put in “a solid 40 hours.” Because of this, home workers tend to work late and even work weekends. When Marissa Mayer of Yahoo banned employees from working remotely, Hanselman, a Microsoft employee reacted:

I see this ban on Remote Work at Yahoo as one (or all) of these three things:

  • A veiled attempt to trim the workforce through effectively forced attrition by giving a Sophie’s Choice to remote workers that management perceives as possibly not optimally contributing. It’s easy to avoid calling it a layoff when you’ve just changed the remote work policy, right?
  • A complete and total misstep and misunderstanding of how remote workers see themselves and how they provide value.
  • Pretty clear evidence that Yahoo really has no decent way to measure of productivity and output of a worker.

SEE ALSO: Remote working and burnout go together like milk and cookies

Hanselman identified at least four disadvantages of working from home:

  • Being unseen might make you invisible at times (this sounds like a no-brainer but it really isn’t). To make sure this does not happen, you should go into the office from time to time to reassure everyone that you’re still working there and you are fulfilling your tasks. While you’re at it, you can have some one-on-one meetings, crack a joke with your colleagues and meet new people. So basically that old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is true, which means that you need to make your presence felt — and seen.
  • The ‘guilt’ card. This topic was covered above — the remote worker often puts in more hours than required to make sure colleagues don’t think they are slacking off.
  • You shall not pass. You may have access to everything you need but every now and then there’s this problem that you can only solve if you are in the (actual) office.
  • Feedback pending. Receiving feedback on your work sometimes means that you have to ask for it. Your remote status may feed your paranoia and you may think that silence is trouble. But it really isn’t! You simply have to ask for feedback.

Getting into a routine is just what the doctor ordered. If you work from home, you need to remember not to skip some important things such as: eat, blink (yes, that might happen when you are too focused), take breaks, drink water etc.

You might say “I knew that already” but when it comes to taking a break or calling it a day if your answer is “just this thing and I’m done” you clearly need to change something.

How do you feel about working remotely?

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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