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IBM Led The Way For Telecommuting. Now They're Doing Away With It

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Patrick Finnegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

IBM is calling its employees into the office. After decades of allowing a large part of its workforce to telecommute, Big Blue is requiring many of those remote workers to start showing up to a physical office building, like the company's location in north Austin.


John Simons, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, says that for decades the company led the pack when it came to teleworking – many roles, from marketing to coding, were done by employees working from home.

"Now the company has decided that it wants to go a different direction, they want to group people together in really small, agile teams in sort of face-to-face situations in offices around the country," Simons says. "They think that that's a better way to have teams react in real time to market changes and changes in the desires of their clients."

However, some employees and critics suspect something else is at play – and those telecommuting workers aren't happy about being given an ultimatum to either relocate or find a new job.

"Many of these employees who are kind of angry that they made decisions like purchasing homes and relocating to far-flung areas are ... saying that this is a way to do layoffs in disguise," Simons says.

Some of those employees may be in their 40s and 50s and joined IBM back in the 90s, when the telecommuting boom was getting underway. They may be settled in and less willing to relocate.

"What's interesting about this situation, too, is that IBM around that time (when it began allowing telecommuting), began selling software and services that allow companies to let their workers work from home," he says. "In fact IBM is still promoting many of those software and serves to its clients."

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