IBM: So much for working from home

Big Blue wants to see you. Back in the office, that is.

IBM is pulling back from one of the pioneering steps it took in the workplace by saying to employees who work remotely that they need to pack up their laptops and everything else and return to a company office if they want to keep their jobs.

That’s right. Find your way to an office cubicle, or hit the bricks.

The Wall Street Journal reported that IBM began instituting the new you-can’t-work-from-home policy this week, and that the company is “quietly dismantling” the program that has been in place for decades. The Journal said the retrenchment on its employees working remotely was being done so that IBM could “improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work.”

It also happens to be taking place not long after IBM reported its 20th-straight quarter of declining year-over-year revenue. Legendary all-time investor Warren Buffett also said this month that Berkshire Hathaway has cut its holdings in IBM by one-third from the 81 million shares the company owned earlier this year.

Approximately 1,000 IBM employees work in the Bay Area, including those at the company’s Almaden Research Lab and Watson West headquarters, which is in San Francisco. An IBM spokesperson didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the company’s decision to end remote working.

IBM has about 380,000 employees worldwide. The Journal said it is not known how many employees will be impacted by the new policy, but that it has already been put in place at IBM’s Watson, digital marketing, design and software development divisions.

The move by IBM harkens back to a similar one enacted by Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, who in 2013 put an end to Yahoo employees working from home, or remote locations.

Photo: This January 2011 photo shows the IBM computer system known as Watson at IBM’s T.J. Watson research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.  IBM is reportedly putting an end to its employees being able to work remotely. (IBM via AP)


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