Thread regarding IBM layoffs

Colocation - will it be the new term for 'layoff'?

So the head of marketing announced on a recent call that 'colocating' diamond teams is in our near future. What this means is that people are going be A) forced back into an office to work and B) those offices could be no where near where they currently live. The option for those not willing to move will be to leave the company. The furor that this has set off among the workforce can not be understated. Everyone in marketing is looking for a new job. The general consensus is that this is a new way for IBM to reduce and aging and fairly paid workforce and bring on lower cost replacements where needed. The announcement of where you have to move to is pending and no other details (moving cost reimbursement, wage adjustments, etc) have even been hinted at. This is going to be massive and it is going to be very painful. In the meantime some executives are playing it off like its no big deal.

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This just came to my team (outside the USA). They ask you to choose between agreeing to come back in or voluntarily resigning. If you agree to leave voluntarily you of course don't get a severance package and where I am you won't qualify for government unemployment benefits either.

The law here also states that if an employer makes a major change in work conditions (such as work location) WITHOUT employee consent and make that a condition of employment, if they let the employee go for not agreeing to it then it is a 'constructive dismissal' and they have to treat it as a layoff and give severance. Of course nothing from IBM lets you know this, they want to cut employees without paying severance.

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IBM's rationale for co-location is almost comical, given the social business and other collaboration software they sell that has been pitched at making employees productive no matter where they are located, etc., etc. I write about this for IBM's Digital Services Group and people I work with are either leaving or, if they are lucky, having to commute for hours daily, time better spent actually working.

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I was contacted by an IBM recruiter last week encouraging me to apply for an RTP full time direct position specified in an email ( they got my email address from LinkedIn). I've never worked for IBM and am currently out of work but I REFUSE to even consider IBM. I stand with my brothers and sisters in IT who are being decimated by the continual offshoring and now relocation of jobs. The IT workers in their mid and late careers have been under attack for years now with offshoring, H1Bs, and the continual layoff and hiring cycles, not just at IBM but everywhere. I am so tired of it, the hypocrisy, the unfairness. And then they cry foul because they claim they cannot find workers with skills. At some point, this has to end badly for tech companies. I am hoping this year is it, with Trump and others threatening to end H1Bs or punish off-shoring of jobs.

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YES! This is happening. This needs to get in front of Mr Trump! His country will loose about 100,000 employees in the US .... who is targeted??? Older, Skilled, Employees who have built their homes and lives around the guidelines of IBM. And Now IBM is pulling out the rug. Move to XXXX to keep your job. No Options, 30 days to decide. IBM will consolidate all US employees to SIX locations around the country. It's TRUE --- Canada claims this violates federal law and has stopped it completely. IBM is hiring, yes. Not many, but the 8 that have been hired in my division in the last 6 months are all young, just out of college and hired to be in the office in Austin.

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"IBM Canada said no to this. In fact they found a law preventing IBM from attempting such a silly action. If you hired on to work at a particular location (or home). then that is the assumption that employees have the right to maintain and keep. We must have someone smart enough in the US to find a similar precident[sic]."

Wrong. IBM Canada is doing exactly the same thing and work standards bodies say it is perfectly legal. If enough notice is given, you can be asked to move anywhere.

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HR forces victims to sign very specific wording, which falls somewhere between wrong and illegal. They deem you to have resigned if you do not show up at your new location on the day you are supposed to. The trick is to reinterpret job abandonment as future voluntary resignation and then make you sign the papers under threat of starting the clock on your immediate voluntary resignation. Clever stuff, yes?

As others have mentioned, even a telecommuter working with teams in another country is not exempt. The telecommuter is expected to telecommute from a cube in the consolidated site in a new city.

Evaluating the stated motivation at face value -- make IBM great again by co-locating staff to generate synergy by collaboration or whatever -- exposes two issues: (1) this strategy that was such a big deal in the 90s is no more with common technologies making real time collaboration a reality; and (2) studies have shown that people will phone or text to avoid walking up a single flight of stairs to collaborate. So unless the people being forced to move are going to sit in the same room, the plan will fail.

It's about forcing attrition without paying severance.

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Less than 25% will stay … and that's my boss's estimate based on his water cooler talk. Water cooler because he went into the office today. Usually he is at home with the rest of us, working from 7 AM - 7 PM with colleagues scattered around the world. No one on his team is local, nor do they need to be. His clients are scattered around the globe too.

IBM Canada said no to this. In fact they found a law preventing IBM from attempting such a silly action. If you hired on to work at a particular location (or home). then that is the assumption that employees have the right to maintain and keep. We must have someone smart enough in the US to find a similar precident.

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This is definitely happening in marketing and I will lose about 70% of my department. There wasn't even a discussion about whether or not it made sense by marketing discipline. The issues we have in marketing has nothing to do with proximity to another team member - its about the leadership and the lack of resources and support we get. Funny how they are getting rid of the seasoned foot soldiers that have kept the IBM boat floating and moving forward. And the new leadership (CMO and DBG) haven't even really looked to see where the problems were - the previous leadership! Why not get rid of THEM and let the real workers work - from wherever is needed.

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I was around when IBM reduced offices and sent everyone to work from home. Now their sending everyone back into offices, but this time, to only a handful of cities.

10's of thousands of U.S. workers who cannot move, or will not move, will be terminated. It will be a MASSIVE brain drain of the very people needed to reverse IBM's decline.

By every measure, Ginni Rommety has been an utter failure. Does anyone remember that it was she who engineered the acquisition of PWC for $3.5 billion which has yielded little or nothing, the remnants of which are now presiding over the crumbling of the services division?

What could the benefits of co-locating be that would outweigh the mass exodus of knowledgeable and hard working employees?

Where is the board of directors? Have they been asleep for the past 5 years?

This is an ill conceived mass layoff. IBM grows earnings as revenue falls year after year. Guess how they're doing it? Ginni has IBM in a death spiral. Is any further proof needed that Ginni has to go?

  • Sincerely, Disgusted and Defeated
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Also read about an employee in the IBM Digital Business Group that got the word this week.

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I just read that this is happening now. />

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Digital Business Group employees are supposed to be co-located in Raleigh, Atlanta, Austin or New York. For anyone who lives in the western US, that's literally thousands of miles away. The number of people who will be forced out if this really comes to pass is staggering. Not only do people not want to move and uproot their lives, they don't want to work in an open office environment. Apparently the Pointy Haired Boss didn't read the article about how most studies show the open office trend is a dumb idea and actually LOWERS productivity: />

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HPE have been using this snide means of forcing people out for the last 3 years. People who previously worked well and productively forced to go into an office to sit with people they dont work with. A colleague travels 120 miles a day to hold the same conference call conversations that theyve been doing for 10 years from home.

Utter madness.

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Regarding the IBM Digital all hands call, the new Pointy Haired Boss gave this example. He said something to the effect of, "If you are sitting in your basement and have a wealth of legacy knowledge, you will never be able to effectively share that knowledge working remotely from your basement." Interestingly enough, I work in a basement office from home, far from any of IBM's strategic sites. Most of my team is spread all over the globe, yet we get lots of work done, communicate effectively, and share knowledge effectively. What is this new Pointy Haired Boss going to do when the person sitting in their basement decides to leave IBM because IBM values where they sit over the knowledge, skills, and talent they possess? Well, based on experience, IBM will hire 3-4 new people in a "growth market" and let the experienced folks unlucky enough to still be at IBM herd and train the new people.

IBM isn't going to fail because they are a slow moving, monolithic company; IBM is going to fail because they've learned the wrong lessons from other successful companies (the pointy haired boss mentioned Google as an example of co-location). Customers aren't IBM's most valuable asset; employees are IBM's most valuable asset and they are quickly cheapening that asset to the point of being ineffective. If employees feel happy and secure, they will work hard, build good and interesting products, and the customers will come. If you screw over your workforce - ummm, I don't know, like forcing them to relocate when you've encouraged them to work remotely for the last 20 years - the same workforce that interacts with your customers and builds your products, you aren't going to be very good at keeping customers.

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This is only the beginning of a much larger issue in the USA and abroad. Mass unemployment will require the US to ultimately provide a Guarenteed Income Program...at the poverty level of course. Watson and similar automation systems will replace many blue and white collar jobs for the benefit of profit hungry corporate shareholders. IBM led the economy into the current recession that most folks don' even know have started. Further contraction will occur in IBM and many other companies. Check out how Schawb or any other investment firm sees IBM -- it is mediocre at best. The downward spiral has no end in sight. Warren Buffett will have a great buying opportunity soon.

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We've lost several already because this is coming (they knew it was coming by year end and that got them looking and surprise, surprise they found something fast and have two weeks)... Pretty arrogant of IBM IMO! Experience matters but someone doesn't value it.

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It will likely impact anyone involved with research, development, and product offering. Impact to sales and services are still TBD.

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Does this impact server R&D?

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This is also a very clever way for IBM to essentially RA older workers who are less able to pick up and move at a months notice. They have kids involved in school and are more likely to have older parents which require care. Second it allows IBM to fill up their nearly vacant campuses.

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Timing?

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All of IBM Digital Business Group will be affected by this. It was announced in a town hall meeting last week by the new CDO they hired from AOL. No details yet regarding timeline or which locations will be the "hubs". Also a big focus on bringing in new, fresh talent, so it's pretty obvious they expect a loss of employees. I will be affected as I work remotely. So I wonder if it's considered a layoff? Or if it's considered a voluntary departure?

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"This should not be a surprise" - your pretty funny.

Apparently most people working at IBM aren't as smart (or as smug) as you are.

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This should not be a surprise. It already worked with GTS moving staff to Dubuque, Columbia and Boulder. Now that most of those jobs are GR'd, there is room for others. If you are not in one of the major data centers, you should expect that in the very near future your job will be moved if you are not facing the customer.

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When is this supposed to happen - did they give a timeframe?

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It's not just happening in marketing. It already happened in Analytics and is rumored to be happening in other areas very soon. This is a corporate wide initiative and will have a detrimental impact on IBM products and services as many will leave and not relocate.

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