Sounds good in theory but not in practice

Remote work affair: Do as IBM says, not as IBM does

Gabriela Motroc

© Shutterstock / 3D_creation

An IBM Smarter Workforce Institute study found that “remote workers are highly engaged, more likely to consider their workplaces as innovative, happier about their job prospects and less stressed than their more traditional, office-bound colleagues.” This sounds good in theory but let’s not forget that the tech giant is in the midst of a “move or leave” program.

This might sound weird coming from the company that implemented a “move or leave” program but IBM is serious about exploring the benefits and challenges of remote working. An IBM-convened panel at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) 2017 concluded that teleworking works and that all challenges can be overcome with “careful planning and communication.”

However, not long ago, the same company decided to implement a “move or leave” program. The Register exclusively reported in early 2017 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 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.

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

Remote work through IBM’s eyes: Advantages

Let’s not forget that IBM has a whitepaper about remote work, its benefits and challenges and how to make it work.

Looking at the employee engagement scores for teleworkers reveals that they are in fact more engaged (61 percent) than those in more traditional working arrangements (55 percent).

According to the whitepaper, “teleworkers believe their workplace is more innovative, they are happier about performance management and job prospects, they feel well informed and they are team workers. Furthermore, fewer teleworkers (26 percent) than traditional employees (32 percent) report unreasonable work stress.”

“Leadership needs to actively create an organizational culture that supports telework”

IBM also says in the whitepaper that “leadership needs to actively create an organizational culture that supports telework.” However, the tech giant seems to have changed its mind about teleworking — especially since the aim of the “move or leave” program is to increase teamwork, productivity, and morale.

Perhaps the last part of the paper explains why they decided to change their opinion about teleworking:

Numerous studies have actually shown that the teleworkers are in fact more productive, but if the wrong organizational culture and mindset exist, then the incorrect perceptions can be very damaging.

However, IBM does encourage companies to start a teleworking program and “reap the people and business benefits.”

Remote options: A must

Although IBM seems to have changed its mind about the benefits of teleworking, remote options are highly valued.

This year, over 64,000 developers responded to Stack Overflow’s survey, giving them the largest response ever. They unearthed some interesting trends — one of them has to do with the remote work conversation that has been gaining momentum especially after IBM’s decision to ban remote work.

Suffice to say that developers value remote work more than health benefits, expected work hours, annual bonuses, meals, private offices etc.

Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2017

Working from home is more than just staying in your pajamas and taking a few calls. If you want to find out more about the pros and cons of becoming a remote worker as a developer, check out this article by Joseph Cruz.

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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