IBM Calling its Remote Employees Back to the Office

Working remotely is increasingly becoming more popular and widespread, as employers have taken advantage of modern technological advances that allow teams of employees to collaborate in a remote environment, as wells as employees finding flexible work options more desirable. In something like a backlash against this shift, several high-profile companies have started to roll back remote work options for employees.  IBM, considered one of the first corporations to fully embrace remote work, is now calling its employees back to the physical office.

As reported by Quartz, IBM decided to “co-locate” its U.S. marketing department of approximately 2,600 people, meaning that all teams would now work “shoulder to shoulder” from one of six different locations: Atlanta, Raleigh, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and New York. Employees who worked remotely or from an office that was not on the list would be required to either move or look for another job.

The list of remote work’s touted benefits is long and varied, ranging from a better balance work and home life for employees, stronger personal relationships, to increased productivity. That last point is probably the most attractive for employers, but IBM needs to focus on something other than productivity right now. As some of its core businesses, like technology services and systems, face challenges from cloud-based vendors, the company’s strategy has been to reinvent itself around new businesses like artificial intelligence and its own cloud-computing operations. In simple terms, IBM is placing a bet on its future -that innovation will trump productivity.

In a somewhat ironic move, IBM is trying to innovate by returning to an older, more traditional workplace model. While most would agree that a balance needs to be struck between face-to-face interaction and the ability to work remotely, the benefits of finding that right balance are too great to shy away from the challenge.

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