Is remote work becoming a distant dream again?

Is remote work becoming a distant dream again?

Embracing remote work culture helped IBM save $100 million in office space. But now Big Blue is changing course, saying that agile teams need to work together to succeed. What's the impact on the future of IT?

For decades, IBM was one of remote works loudest — and largest — champions. In 2009, 40 percent of its workforce was remote, which helped the company save $100 million in office costs in the United States alone.

But over the past few months, that's been changing, as divisions send out memo after memo letting folks know that they're being called in to work from one of six core locations around the United States.

As reported by Quartz, the move is designed to help IBM speed up its turnaround efforts as it bets more heavily on Watson and other bleeding technology initiatives. Executives believe that working physically together — "shoulder to shoulder," as one executive put it — is key to spurring innovation.

It's a jarring move for a lot of employees, who have been told that they may need to relocate or look for new jobs. It's also a big shift after years of improvements to broadband access, mobile data speeds, and collaboration tools have made remote collaboration easier and work better than ever before.

But that still might not be enough, even with the additional cost savings.

As for the business justification, that's usually a question at a higher paygrade, but there's real impacts on IT, for everything from how you provision equipment, security procedures, to bandwidth allocation at offices.

It also means that investments made today in infrastructure, whether to support remote or local reporters, might have to take into account whatever strategy is in vogue in a year or two.

Is your office seeing shifts in remote work strategy? How are you preparing for whatever comes your way? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

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