Is this a case of 'constructive dismissal'?

IBM — then and now: From steady to nomadic

Gabriela Motroc

Freelance work image via Shutterstock

It was recently revealed that IBM is implementing a “move or leave” program. The discussion has migrated to Reddit and has unearthed a few interesting details. Let’s see what gems lie in the Reddit thread.

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.

Although the British technology news website claimed in its article that marketing employees will have to “move or leave” (with more departments to implement it at a later time), some Redditors claim that the program was recently implemented in Systems and it is “heavily pushed  in Cloud/Watson.”  GatonM did not want to get into details but did reveal that “this is happening to other depts including programmers. Quite a while ago to be honest. Enjoy it while you’ve got it.” However, ibmthrow123 said in a comment that “if you’re important enough they make exceptions.”

Although it’s still unclear which departments need to “move or leave,” one term that seemed to be quite popular in this thread was “constructive dismissal.” According to Wikipedia, this term refers to the following: “occurs when an employee resigns as a result of the employer creating a hostile work environment. Since the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is in effect, a termination.”

IBM then

One Redditor opined that IBM’s program looks like “a stealthy layoff” while another one claimed that the tech giant has layoffs every time they “change directions.” austex_mike, who grew up in an IBM family, wrote that the “no layoffs thing was a HUGE part of company culture in the 70s and eighties. In fact, it was a really big deal when they had their first layoffs in 1993, it was all over the news. It was part of the company culture set out by Tom Watson. Sure, they might have changed some aspects of their business, but until the early 90s every employee was given the opportunity to move into a different part of IBM if the place they were working was closed.”

Meanwhile, brunes reminded Redditors that “IBM has a lot of dead weight and has to make room to hire new people to compete in new areas. Yes, they are laying off thousands. They’re also hiring thousands.” 

IBM now

One Redditor who worked at IBM on site as a software engineer opined that the program might be “directed more at new employees who haven’t started working remotely than those who currently are.” Still, for some employees, local site was not an option: huskercane claimed that he was laid off last summer and was asked to move to one of two “cloud” development sites.

Meanwhile, cdogg75 opined that IBM’s program is “easier and cheaper than their annual layoffs. You are choosing to leave on your own. While I agree that I worked a shit-ton more hours working remotely, the stupid thing is that not only do you have to go into an IBM office, but it has to be your division. Say, if you are in the IoT Watson division, you need to go to one of those offices, regardless if your working peers go to that one or not…”

However, there are also quite a few Redditors who think that working in an actual office is the way to go. For example, keezy88 claimed that although there are benefits of working from home, “there are also a lot of benefits of parking in an office and IBM has gone both ways and have researched enough to know that good ideas can come from in office environments.” Furthermore, another Redditor said that “the younger people at the company insist on working in the office and don’t ask for remote work” and the middle-aged employees want to work remotely.

Check out the entire Reddit thread here.

How do you feel about IBM’s “move or leave” program?

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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