People & Human Resources

Why IBM Australia wants staff to spend more time in the office

Matthew Elmas /

Technology giant IBM Australia has issued a memo to staff asking them to spend more time in the office and less time working remotely in a bid to promote better connection and teamwork between its staff.

IT News reports human resources executives at IBM sent a memo to employees calling for “increased teaming and physical and emotional connections” within its workforce.

While remote working arrangements at IBM Australia date back more than a decade, the company is changing its work policy as part of a new collaboration strategy.

“We achieve our best results when we operate as an integrated set of teams, aligned with each other, and working to meet the demands of the marketplace and of our clients,” IBM’s staff memo reads, according to IT News.

IBM, which has previously said it encourages employees to adopt flexible working arrangements, said it still believes flexibility is a core value, but some staff would need to work with managers on a change in arrangements.

The move comes amid a broader discussion in HR and business circles about the benefits and drawbacks of remote work and flexible employment arrangements.

Speaking to SmartCompany, HR and recruitment professionals Victoria Stuart and Stephanie Reuss, founders of Beam Australia, said flexible work is an increasingly important balancing act employers need to engage in with staff.

“The digital age gives people more freedom and control over where they work,” Ruess says.

“Flexibility means different things to different people, and the ability to work from home or different locations is one just aspect.”

Stuart said potential talent, particularly millennials, value work-life balance and flexibility highly in potential employers, and it will be important for IBM to strike the right balance to retain productive workers.

SmartCompany contacted IBM, but someone from the company was not available for comment. However, HR executives indicated in the memo that arrangements would be created on an individual basis.

Reuss said employers, particularly in the technology space, needed to be wary of creating HR policies that would scare away candidates.

“A lot of talent that we’re looking for and advising businesses of, especially in the tech space, is really scarce at the moment,” she says.

“The balance of power has shifted from the employer dictating terms to the employee owning their career and earnings.”

In a case study about its “innovation in flexible work” filed with the Diversity Council of Australia, IBM said flexible working arrangements have been a key pillar of its success over the last 15 years, boosting retention and employee satisfaction.

“IBM’s key insight to successfully adopting workplace flexibility is to ensure a good understanding of the business case for flexible work: it supports both the business’ needs and our employees in their work-life balance,” the company wrote.

NOW READ: Flexible work for everyone: the evolution to a new normal

NOW READ: How the public sector is getting into flexible working and what your startup can learn from how they manage it 

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany.

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