What just happened? IBM Software is the latest tech giant to require employees worldwide to return to the office. Starting next week, workers will have to come at least three days a week. The mandate only applies to those who live within 50 miles of an IBM office, but it sounds like the rule will eventually apply to everyone.
The registry Reports that IBM Software senior VP of product management Kareem Yusuf and senior VP of product Dinesh Nirmal broke the bad news to employees in an internal blog last week.
“If we want to maintain the flexibility to work both remotely and in the office, we need to better manage access to the office,” they wrote, adding that the decision on which days people need to come in falls to managers and Project teams are left to individuals.
If you live more than 50 miles from an IBM office, you don’t have to commute long. The executives wrote that anyone who falls into that category is “exempt at this time,” suggesting there will come a time when that will not be the case. Yusuf and Nirmal added that the return-to-office orders will be implemented in accordance with applicable local laws.
“It is critical to our culture and our shared goals – tripling development output, building successful products and attracting new customers – that we personally spend more meaningful time together,” they said, echoing similar statements from companies like Amazon, Dell, Salesforce, Zoom and many more.
“Right now, one in four of you works in the office three days a week. By October we want that number to be closer to three out of four. We appreciate your attention and support,” Yusuf and Nirmal wrote. To reach that number, IBM is appointing “Software Executive Focals,” a designation for on-site support staff who will help make the return to the office a “more concerted effort across the software space.”
Many companies are taking stricter measures to bring their employees back to the office. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy recently told those who didn’t want to return, “It probably won’t work out for you.” We also heard the Zoom boss’ claim that people can’t build trust or innovate when they Use video calling programs like Zoom.
IBM Software may not be too worried about losing employees who refuse to return. The company was one of the first to announce that it would pause or slow down hiring of employees in non-customer-facing roles, such as human resources, because AI could automate many of the tasks performed by those employees. CEO Arvind Krishna said he expects about 30% of the company’s jobs to be replaced by AI and automation within five years. This corresponds to around 7,800 jobs.
A recent survey found that 8 in 10 executives regret their plans to return to the office and would have done things differently if they had better access to workplace data.