International Business Machines is giving thousands of its remote workers in the U.S. a choice this week: Abandon your home workspaces and relocate to a regional office — or leave the company.
The 105-year-old technology giant is quietly dismantling its popular decades-old remote work program to bring employees back into offices, a move it says will improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work.
The changes comes as IBM copes with 20 consecutive quarters of falling revenue and rising shareholder ire over Chief Executive Ginni Rometty’s pay package.
The company won’t say how many of its 380,000 employees are affected by the policy change, which so far has been rolled out to its Watson division, software development, digital marketing, and design — divisions that employ tens of thousands of workers.
The shift is particularly surprising since the Armonk, N.Y., company has been among the business world’s staunchest boosters of remote work, both for itself and its customers. IBM markets software and services for what it calls “the anytime, anywhere workforce,” and its researchers have published numerous studies on the merits of remote work.
In the past, IBM has boasted that more than 40% of employees worked outside traditional company offices, and a May 4 post on the company’s Smarter Workforce blog stated that “telework works.”
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