Are IBM making a smart or strange play?

Late last week in the news it was announced that the large population of telecommuting workers that IBM have had for a long time had been given a change in their working policy: Move into one of the six offices, or leave the company.

The announcement was apparently made through a confidential company video according to The Register, with the first wave of moves starting immediately and a second wave to follow in March.

There may be more to it than just the four and a half years of consecutive declining revenue behind this idea, but is it really the right move?

The part that we find the most peculiar is that IBM are going against every trend that we see in the marketplace today. What we are seeing is enterprise and multinational companies employing flexible working strategies (we are aware that telecommuters are different to flexible workers), allowing employees to work from wherever, whenever. The shift is a mind-set change from you need to work within these walls, between these times so that I know you are getting the job done, to, you work at a time and location that suits your lifestyle, as long as your work is completed by the date specified.

Using video to collaborate, brainstorm, and interact with team members, other staff, agencies or customers allows companies to be sure that proper comradery can continue when distance means that people are not all in the same location.

This move to flexible working has become more and more popular since the launch of Microsoft’s Skype for Business a couple of years ago. The ability to have one workflow, but connect via room, desktop, tablet, smartphone or telephone has really opened the eyes to a lot of businesses. When this is enhanced by a platform such as Videocall’s ICE service to supply the quality, reliability and security that enterprise companies require for effective communication, then it really is a wonder why a firm such as IBM, leaders in technology, have made this choice.

Perhaps they were in a situation where the collaboration tools they were using were not suitable for the business and the communication around the business was ineffective or stagnant. When this happens the time to market is increased, and when that happens profits and ROI become harder to reach.

Of course only IBM know the real reason for this latest move. Hopefully it is not a method of shedding unwanted members of staff? We will of course follow it with great interest. For now however, making a move that Yahoo carried out only four years ago will continue to baffle us. Especially when it didn’t really work for Yahoo.

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