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HP To Cut Back On Telecommuting

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the my-favorite-kind-of-commuting dept.


Makarand writes "Hewlett-Packard, the company that began making flexible work arrangements for its employees starting in 1967, is cutting back on telecommuting arrangements for its IT employees. By August, almost all of HP's IT employees will have to work in one of 25 designated offices during most of the week. Those who don't wish to make this change will be out of work without severance pay. While other companies nationwide are pushing more employees to work from home to cut office costs, HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter and allow them to be more effective."

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Could they... (4, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466108)

News just in...

HP moves all nationwide offices to india, any employees who refuse to move are out of a job without servernce pay....

Could they do that, and if they can't, can they move them into offices? I guess its a contract thing, something for me to look out for if i ever telecommute..

Only telecommute from India (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466128)

HP moves all nationwide offices to india,...

That's what really pissed me off when I was in the biz. I would ask to work from home and I was ALWAYS told that, "No, we need you here to do your work."

So, I would commute in every fucking day. Then, you guessed it, my job (and others'), were sent over seas to India. Yep, they needed their IT workers there all right!

Re:Could they... (3, Informative)

Minupla (62455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466166)

Probably a contract thing. My current contract reads that should the company choose to relocate me, they are responsible for all expenses, but I am compelled to do the reloc.

Not a biggie for me, as I read the contract fully and understood the implications. Also the one move so far has been for the better for me. e.g. not to india :)


Spouse and children (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466201)

My current contract reads that should the company choose to relocate me, they are responsible for all expenses, but I am compelled to do the reloc.

Is your employer also responsible for expenses related to relocating your spouse and children, if any? Or are such contracts designed exclusively for single people?

Re:Spouse and children (4, Interesting)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466274)

Should singles who deliberately choose that lifestyle to be frugal receive less benefits?

Re:Spouse and children (1, Funny)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466533)

Why not? You aren't losing anything, whereas someone who does have kids and a spouse would be losing their kids and spouse during a move.

My own experience, however, has shown me that married workers are more capable, whether it be because of the daily, constant, successful ability to handle stress, emergencies, delegation, risk, and reward, or some other aspect.

So a married working would be more valuable than a single worker anyway :)

Re:Spouse and children (4, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466738)

Hmmm married workers more valuable? That is, until they have to leave work early to pick up their kids and take them to soccer practice, call of sick because their kids are sick, talk on the phone all day planning their upcoming vacations to disney world, etc. while the single people in the office are left holding the bag. More valuable? I think not. Then again, I did see your smiley so hopefully you are joking and/or a troll!

Re:Spouse and children (5, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467002)

I'd say married workers are more pliable, more risk-averse, more likely to put up with a shitty work situation, and more likely to "go along to get along".

While losing a job is tough on anyone, a single person can quit to leave a shitty situation and only be putting themselves at risk. A married person with kids is likely to be more docile because if they quit/get fired, they have to take care of the spouse and rug-rats.

So, of course management likes married people with kids, as it's a shackle they didn't even have to pay for.

Re:Spouse and children (5, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466628)

Should singles who deliberately choose that lifestyle to be frugal receive less benefits?
Japan, S. Korea, and many European countries are imploding [atimes.com] because too few choose to pass along the investment (food, housing, education, time) they received as children. There is a large economic payoff to childless individuals, yet a high cost to society overall if too many take that route. Families are what keep society going, so society has a vested interest in promoting family. No reason to turn it into a religious debate, just look at the demographics.

Re:Could they... (1)

vinay.ys (976057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466328)

People in India too telecommute as traffic problem has become a significant one, not to mention the rising fuel prices and increasing distance from home to workplace.

Re:Could they... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466553)

I was thinking the opposite. Any job that can be done by a full time ore near full time telecommute can be outsourced offshore. If a person is not in the main office, not with clients, and the bigwigs don't ever see them, then it becomes reasonable to ask, is that person needed at all?

I see this in a number of industries, where most of the work a person does in behind the scenes, few people see any physical evidence of work, and the people complain to high heaven if they are asked to come in for a day. Then these same people wonder why thier jobs are now in India? Five years ago it was fashionable to be an uppity geek. If I were still working in the industry, I would be at work on time every day.

Re:Could they... (1)

PunterGreg (978603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467042)

News just in... HP moves all nationwide offices to india

I could telecommute from my country home to India every day, although those 3pm meetings would be early morning killers.

David Letterman's Top 10 List
hasn't always originated from
the home office in Sioux City [ptbcanadian.com]

If memory serves me correctly- (4, Informative)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466111)

From an article I read on the effect of telecommuting, employees are *more* effective, or accomplish more, in less amount of time, when working from home, as it allows for a more relaxed atmosphere, among other benefits.

But it's been a little while since I read the article, and I may have it wrong.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466149)

From an article I read on the effect of telecommuting, employees are *more* effective, or accomplish more, in less amount of time, when working from home, as it allows for a more relaxed atmosphere, among other benefits.

No it's both ways. Telecommuting is good when the job is not emergent and requires a high amount of concentration (architecting, engineering, designing, given you have the tools at home).

However if your job is routine, technical, and requires lots of work, associated with stress, telecommuniting can make you lazy, slack often (having no control) and doing a bad job overall.

I guess a lesson is relearned: a new solution to a problem doesn't necessarily make older solutions invalid or worse.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (5, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466178)

Telecommuting is good when the job is not emergent and requires a high amount of concentration (architecting, engineering, designing, given you have the tools at home).

The very sort of people HP is calling in from the home.

However if your job is routine, technical, and requires lots of work, associated with stress, telecommuniting can make you lazy, slack often (having no control) and doing a bad job overall.

The very sort of people the new HP manager behind this move is used to dealing with in his previous job at Wal-Mart (no, that's not a joke. RTFA).


Re:If memory serves me correctly- (4, Interesting)

yoder (178161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466396)

WallyWorld manager moves to HP and starts treating IT professionals like illegal immigrants and sub-minimum wage unskilled workers. That is an absolutely beautiful, crystal clear look into the future, because in the US, corporate managers and CEOs are being trained, or conditioned, to think of all workers in precisely that way.

In the US today, employees and customers are the enemy as far as corporate management and CEOs are concerned.

Yep (4, Insightful)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466658)

It's pretty clear if you look at the management changes since the H and P in HP left, that HP has moved away from innovation and toward the bottom line. HP was very successful and well known for many years due to the unusual quality of its corporate culture and products. But the above poster's comment about HP/Wal-Mart is dead on.

The more the new executives and managers chase the bottom line, the more HP will suffer (the more brilliant people will leave), and the worse they will fare in the market. I expect someone to acquire HP for the name at some point in the not-to-distant future. No doubt it will seem like a smart move to the new Wal-Mart managers, when looking at the "bottom line".

Re:Yep (1)

the packrat (721656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466963)

Fortunately for the world, the "engineers" at HP that this affects are no longer in a position to make much of a difference to anything.

Just before Carly started killing off divisions, no matter how profitable that didn't meet the 25% growth target of the (unprofitable) PC business, the important parts of HP, medical devices, measurement and instrumentation, all the important engineering parts in short were spun off into Agilent.

Since then, we've seen the Itanic sink without trace, consumers getting increasingly angry about HP's gouging for toner and consumables in their printer lines and the place turn into a budget PC shop barely able to keep itself afloat.

HP acquired compaq to get hold of the service division that Compaq acquired DEC to get. Unfortunately, PC-vendors don't understand what makes a big-iron company like DEC tick, or how to keep service customers happy so the outsourcing work that Compaq and now HP have taken on to 'leverage' that acquisition have pretty uniformly tanked in the face of competent companies out to provide real service, rather than get a foot in the door to sell their own PC merchandise.

In short, while it's a great shame that HP is doing this, the HP that we all think about when the name comes up, the RPN calculator folks, the makers of CROs and medical whatsits, the PA-RISC workstation company, has either fled or is long since dead. RIP HP.

Re:Yep (1)

sabinm (447146) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467100)

No, the more companies continue to blindly pursue 'innovation' instead of the 'bottom line' the more their investors will shed their investments in 'risk taking' companies. HP is in a terrible position, losing market share in it's research, server and desktop divisions. It's overpriced printer cartridge division is carrying the company now. Frankly, selling most of it's patent portfolio, shaving off it's server and desktop divisions and becoming an printer, camera and ink seller (in other words being more of an office supply company) might actually be more healthy for the company. Let them invest some seed money in smaller business who still need to innovate to survive. Complaining about a company who is beholden to it's stock holders for pushing for the bottom line makes no sense. If I had the choice of listening to the market that rewards my efficency, or random folk who bemoan my lack of innovation, I'll go for the dollar signs every time. Make innovation profitable and I'm the first one knocking that door down.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (0, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466437)

If there was ever an industry that smiles on the driven and responsible small entrepreneur, it is the IT industry. Most of us are to some extent or another self taught. The ones that have a self-improving and driven to achieve attitude are the ones least likely to fit into the "big company cubicle" culture. They run the show, they work in small development shops, they like to see their personal decisions put into implementation. They find reward in a job well done.

If you're working at a huge company like HP, you're not that sort of person. You're mediocre, that's why you're there. You're a person who wants security. You'll sacrifice creative control for it, you'll do a shoddy job because thats what the manager wants, you just want to get paid. You went to school for a career, and this is it. You like safe and lazy. Not the best attitudes for telecommuters.

Flat out. If you're looking for an independent self-starter, you should consider cubicle drone experience a black mark. For this reason, I'm not suprised a huge, sprawling, badly managed company like HP is having troubles with their telecommuters.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466953)

If you're working at a huge company like HP, you're not that sort of person. You're mediocre, that's why you're there.
You could also be a highly intelligent and motivated person who went to HP (for example) because the job was well sold to them - come to us because only we can offer you the opportunity to do anything you like. And not have to do accounts, make the coffee, find new office space when your garage company expands. And the often received wisdom of "having company X on your resume is never a bad thing".
You're a person who wants security.
Hah. Some hope. Though at least you have more control being a self-starter because if you fail and have no money to pay the bills, its largely your fault rather than due to some crap decision by a higher up drone who needed to show how many dollars he saved the company this quarter.

The industry is also plagued by lone gun, play it fast and loose 'entrepreneurs' who love a bit of hacking around to produce a neato techie solution, but which is entirely inappropriate for their large clients. They often leave them with clever but unsupported solutions. These people arrive full of talent but no idea about big businesses, or the end requirement to provide a service to that business - which might be based on their clever clever software package.

The large IT consultancies play well with large businesses because they are 'like them' and understand the full range of their requirements (including the client's personal position within their organisation). Whilst they have a range of technical skills (from poor through mediocre to brilliant), they also end up with some idea of end users and the IT departments which serve them.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466383)

I think the issue is that people are viewing this as a "One size fits all". Some people are best working in an office, some people are best working from home, some people are best with a combination of the two; for example, I tend to spend more time working, at work, but have a lot less distractions at home, so if I need to get one single task done fast, home is most appropriate, but otherwise at work is better.

Well, it'll be interesting to see how this all comes out in the end, anyway...

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (1)

badasscat (563442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466516)

From an article I read on the effect of telecommuting, employees are *more* effective, or accomplish more, in less amount of time, when working from home, as it allows for a more relaxed atmosphere, among other benefits.

I could see that being the case for 2-3 days out of the week, depending on what your job is. But really, if you're working in a team situation (as 99% of people are), there is really no way to effectively work from home 100% of the time. You need to be able to sit down with the rest of your team and brainstorm, or just keep each other updated on what's going on. IM and conference calls just aren't effective replacements for face-to-face meetings.

At most companies these days, meetings use up about 30-40% of the time. Some companies are pretty over the top in their meeting culture (at a certain point, it does just cut in to actual work time), but given the complexity of the work done at most companies and the need for all departments to coordinate effectively, there is some amount of necessary (and often impromptu) in-person conversation.

I work in production for my company's web site, and it drives me crazy how slow our network is at the office - if I'm doing nothing but entering content all day, I could work probably five times faster at home. But that's not all I'm doing - about half my time is spent meeting with various people to make sure we're all on the same page in what we're doing, to brainstorm new ideas, or to just put out fires. Ideally I'd love to work from home some of the time, but I just can't see how it'd ever work all of the time, and I'm sure my job is typical of most people working in technology.

Re:If memory serves me correctly- (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466837)

When your work is primarily teamwork, telecommuting is very disruptive. It can be done, but it's never as easy or productive as an actual office. And you never get the benefits of spontaneous brainstorming. Some of my best ideas have come from BSing with coworkers.

For research jobs, telecommuting doesn't wortk so well.

It makes sense (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466124)

The problem is not the technology, its the people. We allow all of our developers to work at home, providing them with the equipment (VPN, 2nd computer, etc) and technology (1/2 of broadband expenses) to make it possible. But most developers end up coming into the office. Most of them have found that they either A. Lack the self discipline to keep up the pace when working at home and B. They do not have enough access to their co-workers at home despite access to the technology. A lot of our work is multi-discipline, multi-language (Java, C++, C) and spans everything from drivers to applications, our developers simply need real-time access to their peers in order to do the work.

When we have tried this with other aspects of our business it has had similar results. Most people simply lack the self discipline to make turn the telecommuter opportunity into a reality (for them).

Re:It makes sense (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466200)

Ack, it's the people. But that also means it's their responsibility.

As long as people keep their deadlines (i.e. as long as they do their f***ing job) I'd say, do as you wish.

As you say, many people *choose* to work at work, because it works better for them; that's fine, some others don't. HP decided to simply not let people decide how they can best work. That's cause HP is such a great innovative company that's omnisavant.

Re:It makes sense (4, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466410)

I've been on two sides of the issue.

First, as a 'worker' I was allowed to telecommute occasionally. I know that for myself (reasonably well motivated) the temptations at home were too strong for me, and I ended up screwing around about 4 hours a day. Add a wife/kids to the mix, and I would not consider this time to be productive. My co-workers all reported the same thing.

Now as a manager, I run into similar problems with my employees. It took a while for one guy to figure out that Xbox Live lets me know exactly how much screwing around he is doing. (Hmm...he had Oblivion running all day, AND got 5 achievements...) Yet of course he claimed to be working all day. He is no longer eligible for telecommuting.

Now I only support telecommuting with other employees occasionally, and only if there is a very defined project with a definite deliverable at the end. For instance, "You need to have this help file completely finished tomorrow." (Knowing that it is probably a 4 hour job that would be stretched to 8 even if they were at work.)

I'm not trying to be an asshole, but it's just the reality for the people I work with. Given the opportunity, they would sit at home and play games- while making excuses why things didn't get done. They did that when I was part of the team, and they tried to do it when I became the boss.

(Truth be told, when they are AT work, they are very effective, highly productive, and a great team. They are not a bunch of clowns, they just get distracted. But being distracted at work is what lets them see problems from many angles, so it is a good trait if focused on productive issues, instead of deciding which armor to wear.)

Re:It makes sense (1)

dooglio (313304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467036)

For me, the problem with telecommuting isn't the amount of distraction (although kids + wife do seem to cause some chaos--and when it gets too bad, I find myself at a local coffee house with free wireless), or even the lack of access to coworkers.

The problem is with the blurring of the lines between normal work hours and off-time. I have a 100% telecommute programming gig with a company in a nearby city, and I have to say it reminds me of when I was in college and could never relax because there was always homework to do or a midterm to study for.

In a course of a typical day. I might get distracted with something my family needs, then find myself coming back and working extra time that day to make up for the distraction. Before I know it, I'm putting in well over 40 hours in a typical work week. Or, I sometimes will break for dinner, then come back to a nagging problem and spend hours into the night working until I feel like I made enough progress to quit. Weekend time? I have to force myself to get away from the computer or I will find myself working again.

The advantage of going into an office is that I can leave work at work. With telecommuting, I don't take my work home with me at all--my work is home with me.

This is the first sign... (5, Insightful)

anonymousman77 (584651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466125)

This is the first sign that the "pendulum" is swinging toward having local job creation again. HP admitted that having the IT folks TOGETHER makes them better. You couldn't be more apart than California and India.
Of course, your programmers have been telling you this for YEARS, but it takes a pointy-haired boss to implement it.

Re:This is the first sign... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466286)

Very true. And with Apple pulling out of India, [slashdot.org] it seems like others are having similar thoughts.

This is the first sign...Logic has been outsourced (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466323)

Apples and oranges people. The difference between telecommuting and outsourcing is that in outsourcing there's still a company on the other end managing the workers. While in telecommuting there's just the employees. The HP and Apple situation aren't the same.

Re:This is the first sign...Logic has been outsour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466467)

Collaboration is crushed when your customer is in California (the pointy-hair who wants some software) and the worker is in India. Same as if the worker is at home.

Re:This is the first sign...Logic has been outsour (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466585)

Apples and oranges are both fruit. There are similarities to companies deciding to end remote working.

Re:This is the first sign...Logic has been outsour (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466835)

The HP and Apple situation aren't the same.

That business with Apple (at least as described in the Slashdot link) is simply insane. I doubt it's generalizable to anything, although your distinction between telecommuting and outsourcing is obviously correct.

Re:This is the first sign... (1)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466690)

HP would probably move them all to India.

Nearshoring (1)

at.splat (775901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466868)

Unfortunately, hp is planning on 'nearshoring' large portions of its technical support workforce by year's end.

Nearshoring [wikipedia.org] , in the oh-so-clever corporate parlance of our day, is the term for getting all the financial benefits of normal outsourcing (ie., India) with all the benefits of ... staying in the in the same hemisphere ("Hey, we're only shipping jobs out of the country a LITTLE ways!"). Costa Rica seems to be a potential favorite for the pending hp move.

Re:This is the first sign... (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466974)

This is the first sign that the "pendulum" is swinging toward having local job creation again. HP admitted that having the IT folks TOGETHER makes them better.

I think you're over-estimating their judgement: In this case the move apparently came at the demands of a former Walmart exec -- the sort that thinks that you have to be hovering over your employees like a hawk, treating them as temp line workers, or they'll screw around. That sort of 1950s thinking is pervasive throughout the entire industry, and it's the same industry that's super-happy to dump a division and replace it by offshoring, just as long as the other end also has whipmasters watching the serfs intently.

HP has been swirling down the toilet for quite some time, and this is just a continuation of the same. It's going to get worse given that many of their brightest people, who've come to enjoy and expect this luxury, are going to say goodbye rather than be treated like a Walmart floor employee.

Interesting theory. (-1, Flamebait)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466135)

While other companies nationwide are pushing more employees to work from home to cut office costs, HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter and allow them to be more effective.

Interesting theory. As IT people tend to work at their best in formal situations, I would also like to suggest mandated progress reports that could be discussed at regular goal-orientation meetings with management. Otherwise you risk losing focus as your whole team goes off playing Quake or discussing pi or whatever eggheads do when you don't put pressure on them to perform.

Re:Interesting theory. (4, Funny)

raider_red (156642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466355)

As IT people tend to work at their best in formal situations, I would also like to suggest mandated progress reports that could be discussed at regular goal-orientation meetings with management.

Right, and don't forget to put the right cover sheet on your TPS report.

laziness (1)

Lusa (153265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466137)

I've always wanted to be able to telecommute. Some days I just can't be bothered to get dressed. I want to watch TV during the day, listen to music, sleep in without anyone noticing and in general not have to talk to my coworkers unless I need to. oh and the most important thing.. be around to receive my freakin mail. Too many mail order companies bow down to the pressure of the delivery companies to the point that I can't get an item I have paid for delivered to where I work (even if I am going to be there and have photographic ID) or even get a phone call 5 minutes before it is delivered so I can leave work and be there to receive it. If the company offers selective delivery it's usualy 5 or 6 times the normal delivery price. I was even once posted a delivery card with the wrong reference number on it only to find out after the item had been returned. This was after quoting the number 5 times in different phone calls. This madness has to stop!

Re:laziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466408)

I'm sure all your colleagues wish you worked from home too, since you apparently attempt to turn every conversation, no matter what the topic, into some ridiculous little rant about delivery companies. It must make life around the water cooler at your office quite tedious for your co-workers.

Re:laziness (1)

Lusa (153265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466828)

oh my, that was almost.. nah, i'll bite though. You've obviously never had to rely on deliveries and this is slashdot where most stories get knocked completely off tilt anyway into a USA vs world debate. It was mildly related and the first half was sarcasm which was related though you may need to think about. Something you appear to have little experience of.

Re:laziness (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466430)

So basically you don't want to work. Welcome to life.

Re:laziness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466444)

No... I want to work, really I do.
I just want to work doing something creative and life-altering like watching TV and eating Tostio chips on my couch.
Shurly there must be a job for me?

Re:laziness (1)

Lusa (153265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466760)

err no, and besides my rant about couriers it is known to many as sarcasm. I'm sure there are many managers that would agree, it is better to have your workforce near you so you can ensure they are doing what you are paying them to do than somewhere else. Hell, I worked one place that I would never see a customer yet the management forced a uniform to be worn because I must remember at all times that I am working for a business.

I'm a workaholic and have been so for several years. I'll throw myself into my work to the point where it's costing me money and my health. I get edgy if I'm not working at the weekend. I feel guilty if I leave and something is not finished and a customer is waiting. It's so bad, in my office people know I'm still working during my personal holidays or if I'm ill. Still, there are days when I want to go off and do my own thing for a while. It's called burning out.

mad force.... (1)

voitek (979108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466141)

i think hp is on its way to make his work force very mad... and the net effect is not going to be the one expected. i wonder how much time will take executives to come to the reversal of its decision, as it will come to this point i am sure.

Re:mad force.... (2, Insightful)

NickBurns329 (797186) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466187)

Hmm .. I could not disagree more. I think, like the abuse of email with spam, telecommuting has been abused to the point where the Corporation (pick one) now realizes that people *do* work better face to face and yes, under some pressure to perform work. Now, I'm sure a substantial percentage of telecommuters work better, more hours, etc., than their face-time counterparts, but probably enough have abused this privilge to spoil it for those that can work effectively at home. Plus, I see this as a trend to where, the Corporation will evaluate you in the office setting first, before allowing you the luxury of a 5 second commute.

Re:mad force.... (5, Informative)

yoder (178161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466471)

I telecommute as well as working in the office. As a Systems Admin I can do most of my job remotely and my bosses use telecommuting as a way to pay for productivity. I know when to work at home and when I'm needed in the office and have gone out of my way to make sure that my productivity has increased since I began telecommuting.

When someone uses the "a few bad apples spoil it for the whole bunch" argument, they don't address the probability that productivity increases as a whole, even with those bad apples. In this particular case, a Wallyworld manager goes to HP and begins treating IT professionals just like they treated the illegal immigrants and sub-minimum wage unskilled workers back at Wallyworld.

Telecommuting isn't for everyone, nor for every job, but taking your lead on this issue from a Wally World manager is like asking a NeoCon for advice on social responsibility in government.

Re:mad force.... (1)

subterfuge (668314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466540)

..or like asking a NeoLibCommy to keep his hands out of your pocket.

Romans had the same problem (4, Funny)

gubachwa (716303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466156)

Romans also had the same problem with slaves [cartoonstock.com] . For some reason they couldn't exercise as much influence over their slaves when they worked from home. Of course, instead of whips and chains, HP has employee surveillance and the threat of outsourcing to keep their staff in line.

Doesn't apply to non-IT (4, Interesting)

tylernt (581794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466159)

What's interesting is their non-IT employees can continue to telecommute. I would guess that the IT folks being forced to relocate and physi-commute aren't too happy about that.

Unintended consequences (4, Insightful)

JakiChan (141719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466160)

I hope they've thought this through. They say that high performers can keep telecommuting, but I somehow doubt they'll allow that due to morale issues. The clued people who can perform while telecommuting are the same people who can easily find new jobs. If I was being asked to relocate because they won't let me telecommute anymore then I'd consider if I really want to work for a company that says they no longer trust me.

When you lay off your least valuable folks and then start doing stuff like this your most valuable folks start looking. You end up with the people that aren't good enough to get hired elsewhere but probable were gonna be on the next layoff list. Yeah, that's really the kind of people I want supporting my mission-critical gear...

telecommuting (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466162)

Before I get hammered this is the right thing to do. Flexibility is great and being able to work for a few hours on Friday from home when taking comp hours for the rest of the day is efficient and great. Or working from home when you are waiting for the guy of the telecom. Great that's good for the firm and the worker.

But telecommuting for most of the time is stupid and neither good for worker nor firm.

1) My problem is distraction, when I have to finish something I can work from home, that's ok. But if nothing is pressing on me hard I'm simply not disciplined enough. For this a work environment is great to keep focussed.

2) Teamwork. I'm working in an international firm and it is working by and large, but Messanging, calls, emails only get you so far. Being able to walk 5 meters and chat someone up is completely different. It is very complicated to coordinate work over three continents and too many timezones.

3) Teamwork Part 2, how will you develop something like Teamspirit and good cooperation if you have only seen most of your team a couple of times?

4) line between work and home. I do work enough, when I'm coming home and can say so it's over let's go drink a beer or watch some TV, that's refreshing.

So I'm all for flexibility but please don't overshoot.

Re:telecommuting (5, Interesting)

ckhorne (940312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466546)

I'm a telecommuter- I work 80-90% of my time at home; I go into the office about once every week or two. My commute (when I do go in) is 36 miles each way, and in Atlanta traffic, takes about 1.5-2hrs each way. I'm lead developer on a small (4 person) team for a private medium-sized ($300m/yr and ~2000 employees) company. I'm a contractor, but have been there for a little more than three years now, so I'm a full employee by almost any definition.


1) I'm a lot more productive at home. Everybody has been through that - they can just get more done.

2) I'm a developer, so I really don't need to interact much beyond my own team, and through daily phone conferences, personal phone calls, IM, and email, we stay connected.

3) Traffic makes my blood boil, and the idea of losing 4hrs/day sitting in traffic just makes it sound that much worse.

4) I am less productive before noon and more productive late at night. I try to stick to a 9-10 through 5-6 schedule, but if I get an idea late at night, I can crank out some code without having to be in my office.

5) I have my own office at home. It has dedicated computers for work, a desk, and all the "comforts" of work, plus a radio and a decent view. When I'm done for the day, I can shut the door and leave it behind. I have a separate work phone number, and after a certain time, I don't answer it.

6) Fuel savings - $3/g @ 25mpg * 72miles * 5days => $43/week on gas. Not horrible, but that's assuming I'm not sitting in traffic. $43/week ~= $2100/yr. This easily makes up for my extra expenses I bring on myself from working at home.

7) I can visit out-of-town friends and family and work from there as if I'm still in the office. This takes a LOT more discipline, though, and I only do it rarely.

8) My business wardrobe is hardly anything. Most of my days are spent in shorts and a t-shirt.

9) I can listen to whatever damn station I want and turn up the radio as loud as I want (although always just barely on). :)


1) I can "get stuck" at home for days or even a week at a time, with no real reason to leave the house. I have to look for reasons to get out. You can start to miss the normal, everyday interactions with other people. This is probably the biggest disadvantage to me.

2) Motivation is sometimes a factor, but it is in the office sometimes as well. Granted, I have the freedom (as an hourly contractor) to take off half an afternoon and not bill for it, and working at home makes this easier.

3) Working at home does take a lot of motivation and self-discipline. I find that I don't have too much trouble, esp. if I set goals for the day/week/month and stick to them. This should be true in any job situation, though.

I've telecommuted for other companies in the past ~6 years (small startups, side gigs, and worked for a London-based company for 18 months). All the above points all still hold true. Yes, you may miss things like working with the team, the team interaction, etc, but I find that we all do just fine; this is partly to do with the fact that I've always worked on small teams of very competenent people.

To address the points in the above poster:

1) I agree- disipline differs for everyone. Some people can work remotely effectively; others cannot.

2) I agree with being able to talk to people, but using IM and email can work wonders as long as you're verbose. Plus, you have a papertrail for everything.

3) Physically seeing the team is not a prerequisite for team spirit. The guys on my team all feel that we're part of the team and work as a team. And when the product fails or succeeds, we feel it as a team.

4) I have an office at home; I shut the door when I leave. If you have any 40+ hr/week job + commute, it's going to eat up your weekly life anyway. I find I get more personal time when working at home.

Re:telecommuting (2, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466571)

My problem is distraction

YOUR problem. Not mine.

When I telecommuted, I got up every morning, got dressed, and put in my 8 hours. That makes all the difference, having the personal discipline to still "go to work", even if that means sitting in my own living room at a laptop. Not to say that I didn't squeeze a little more flexibility out of my time that I would in an office (can't easily take a porn break while at the office), but at least 90% comparable to non-telecommuting, I put in a standard 9-to-5.


...Doesn't exist, at least not in the touchy-feely happy productivity boosting cooperation sense in which most companies believe. Teamwork in IT means spending as little time physically together as possible, coming up with a solid API, and everyone goes off and implements their alloted portion of it. Anything more intimate than that (like the farce they call "paired programming") just pisses developers off and wastes multiple people for each one-man job.

And when I do need to get together with my coworkers, I can phone or IM them in less time than it would take me to walk down the insanely long hallway around which all companies seem to design offices, to physically visit that coworker. And even in the office, I get far, far more calls and IMs than actual visitors. And, even in the off chance that we need a physical meeting, I have no problem with the idea of coming into the office once a week to take care of such business - that doesn't mean I need to stay there the other four days of the work week to efficiently do my job.

how will you develop something like Teamspirit and good cooperation

"Team" has no "I" in it. Remember that. Let's keep it that way.

I go to work to do a job (which I happen to enjoy) and get paid. Period. I don't go there to make friends (though I do have friends with whom I work), I don't go there to win a game-called-commerce, I don't go there for the sake of getting out of the house every day. I go there to get a paycheck. So spare me the "yay us!" and "go team!" and "now fall backward and we'll catch you" team spirit BS - Just leave me the hell alone and let me do the work you want done.

line between work and home

See point #1 - Personal discipline. If you have it, no problems here. If you lack it, don't ask to telecommute.

Re:telecommuting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466848)

ok ok you do great with telecommuting, it works out for you and everything is great and pink. Let's just say that it is my opinion, that it is better for the majority (including me) of people, ie. also for the firm to be in a working environment. The hogwash about everyone being so much more productive at home has been said too many times. I think it goes into a longer porn break ;-)

"Teamwork in IT means spending as little time physically together as possible, coming up with a solid API, and everyone goes off and implements their alloted portion of it. Anything more intimate than that (like the farce they call "paired programming") just pisses developers off and wastes multiple people for each one-man job."

and I disagree with this. You are right pair programming is bullshit. (agile programming normally is) but I don't know what you are developing. If it is something you know everything about you may be right. At my work this is NEVER the case. My new Project is based on the code of someone else (as will be the case very often) Face-to-Face explanations are very helpful believe me. I have got grey hair trying to figure out the code from our american friends , while they have not been at work. (although I would agree that a clean good documented API would probably have helped something)

2) I have to program for applications I have never done before, it is nice to have a team who is using this software around the corner.

3) specifying the API and letting everyone work? The waterfall is dead. ;-)

4) again, specifying the API? Isn't really realistic, adjustments have to be made frequently. Shouldn't be the case after a good design phase, has to be done all the same.

5) You are only developing? You are a lucky programmer. I have to talk to the ID-people, the installation-guys, the build guys, the User-centered design guy is pestering me etc. pp. and soon I will have to care for an intern. Lets not talk about other thinks like the test-team, events for marketing etc. pp. HOW this should be done telecommuting is anybodys guess.

So I think the standard developer job you are describing isn't around anymore very often. For you telecommuting may be nice, for my job it wouldn't work out.

Re:telecommuting (1)

SJasperson (811166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466596)

So in other words, you can't handle telecommuting, therefore it's bad for everyone.

For others it's just the opposite (4, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466660)

For this a work environment is great to keep focussed.

If you're the type who needs a work environment to keep focused it would be better not to telecommute, but I bill less when the customer lets me work at home and get more done. It's not that hard to monitor performance in a remote development environment. Either someone is making their milestones or not, closing trouble tickets or not. I can look at their code and tell how long it should have taken vs the actual billing. What I save in clothes, gas and commute time is invaluable. My equipment, my dev environment, my work space at home are all set up for how I work.

A phone list and a speaker phone is all I need for quick consults, fax machine for paperworks, we keep code libraries in common access areas accessible via VPN if I need something. I find interaction at work actually detracts from production more often than helping it. There are times when face to face meetings are unavoidable, like gathering requirements and monitoring user interaction on betas, but other than that I'd say a full 75% of interuptions at the office are at best unproductive and frequently just plain annoying. If I have to forward my office phone, my productivity tanks. If I can check messages a couple times a day that's better.

For people interested in playing politics or needing interaction with other people, an office is necessary. For me the more you leave me alone, the more I'll get done. Sometimes I'll collaborate with other developers...I work with a graphics guy in California regularly. We can work together almost like we're in the same room. We've had three way phone confernces where we've all been hammering away on our part of the app, yapping back and forth on the speaker phone. It was very much like being in an office.

Homeboys (5, Insightful)

jense (978975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466167)

I coulda SWORN the idea behind telcommuting was that you didn't waste time driving or putting up with office-related BS. I know that having a home office alows greater flexibility (which apparently is a bad thing to HP). But as introverted and "leave me alone and let me work" as most programmers and IT personnel are, why would you force them into a room and waste more of their time getting to an environment they hate? I smell backlash. This is akin to offering insurance benefits and then recanting after years.

Re:Homeboys (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466372)

Because as much as programmers and IT personnel don't want to deal with each other, if you can get them to actually talk, you can get some significant improvements in performance. This is particularly true of you're dealing with projects bigger than one person; by putting your staff within easy access of each other, questions will be answered faster, and that can really help. Even if working on independent projects, the ability to trivially ask someone for their advice on a particularly tricky problem is invaluable.

This is not to say that working in an office together is always better; if your staff have an hour's commute each way, the time saved by having them close to each other will almost certainly be wiped out by time commuting instead of either relaxing or working. The point is that there are upsides and downsides, and a balance has to be found between them...

Re:Homeboys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466433)

I recently spent a couple of days consulting at HP. I was seated in the middle of a sea of cubicles. The person in the next cube spent almost the entire two days conducting personal business on the phone. There is very little interaction or oversight in cubes. Working from home I can be in continuous contact via gaim with the others on my team, and not have to listen to someone talking about their car insurance.

Name withheld for obvious reasons.

Re:Homeboys (1)

esper (11644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466515)

if your staff have an hour's commute each way, the time saved by having them close to each other will almost certainly be wiped out by time commuting

What connection do you see between commuting time and working time? Commuting comes out of the employee's personal time. I've never once seen any business which factors it in to the time they're expected to spend working. From the employee's side, that seems a bit off ("work is claiming 10 hours of my day but only paying for 10"), but, from the management side, I don't really see how it could work otherwise. ("Alice is telecommuting, so she has to work 8 hours a day. Bob has an hour commute each way, which leaves him 6 hours to do actual work. And Charlie - it's a 4 hour drive for him to get here, so he just turns around and heads home as soon as he walks in the door. And we pay them all the same.")

Re:Homeboys (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466705)

The commuting time thing is something that annoys me to no end, I read some "study" by a "pro-free market think tank" (lacking a better word) that claimed that people who complained about eight hour workdays were just ungrateful bastards because they had so and so many percent of their time not devoted to work. But this study was of course flawed as hell, they counted eight hours of work time per day and everything else was free time.

If you start thinking about it the average person needs about eight hours of sleep per day, commuting might take another hour out of the day, he/she is probably working 8 - 17 with an hour of lunchtime that could hardly be considered "free" time. So if we subtract eight hours of sleep from the day because we assume everyone needs that and it's not free time we're down to a 16 hour day, since lunch and commuting time are things that you only have to "waste" because of work then let's add them to the work time, at this point we're looking at more than 60% of the day dedicated to "survival". I don't want to spend more than half my day just working for survival, maybe some people do but I have other things I'd like to do with my life.

Even if you add 32 hours per week of free weekend time you're still looking at around 45% of your free time going to work, I wouldn't mind dedicating working 8-9 hours per day three or four days per week. But ten hours per day five days per week, no thanks.


Teamwork? (3, Interesting)

Very.Zen (831087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466189)

From TFA:

In an office, ``you're able to put teams together that can learn very aggressively and rapidly from each other,''

Agreed, IMO lower skilled work environments are much better suited to home working. For example call centre work etc. The only reason I say this is that everyday I go into work and I learn something new from the people around me. Not to say this is "agressive" but if I get stuck on a bit of code, or perhaps a general concept I know that others around me may be able to help, and if they cant then we have discovered something that we as a group are lacking in.

Otherwise these thing go unnoticed, you recieve no critism and do not learn as effectively. Ideally in a team the stronger members of the group can carry the weaker members until they have caught up with the rest.

I cant see how this could be as effective in homeworking, in fact some animosity may occur towards weaker members due to percieved "lazyness" when actually they are just have legitimate trouble with their task.

Re:Teamwork? (2, Interesting)

bahwi (43111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466789)

Need more online collaboration. IM, email, SVN, bug tracker, telephone(or voice chat).

I know working closely makes sense, but you have to put effort into it. Once you're separated, if you the same effort into it, you'll reap similar rewards. I don't think either is particularly better, but as far as learning from others, etc...

I promise you I could walk into a work enviroment in-office and get far less done and help out far less by simply not putting any effort into it, than I could in a separated enviroment. Hell, there's less pointless chatter for me, so you've already got more time to work. People assume working from home, you don't have to put any effort into collaboration, when you actually do.

Neither is better, it's a preference of what people prefer. But neither actually wins, either. There's several advantages, even with a lesser skilled group, because if you have a URL or link, you can easily send that back to them to RTFA. =) And yes, you can see their code, SVN, or, *gasp* copy and paste. =)

OpenBSD Hackathon? (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466216)

Probably some HP manager saw how great people can hack stuff at a Hackathon, so they decided to Put People Together.

Seems like the 21st century's super-efficient leveraging communications technology suddenly isn't good enough for efficient, productive communication anymore...?

Hm, tell that to any company that sells software for digital groupware/communication/...

Yet another reason.. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466221)

Yet another reason to boycott HP and it's crappy products.

Anyone working in IT should cease recommending HP products immediately in a show of support to the HP employees being bent over by them on this.

The water cooler is really important (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466233)

If anyone can give me a citation for the following story, I'd be really grateful.

Some time prior to 1990 I read a story about research done at HP on employee performance. They decided to find a correlation between employee performance and school performance. They found no correlation. It didn't matter where you went to school. It didn't matter how many degrees you had. It didn't matter what your marks were. That wasn't surprising. The Navy had discovered the same things many years previously. What was surprising was the discovery that the highest performing employees were the ones who hung around the water cooler.
Gregarious people make better employees. If you put people together, you get better work. Laying off the people who won't come in to the office seems like quite a good move.

Re:The water cooler is really important (3, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466455)

In a big company, lack of communication can be a bigger obstacle to getting your job done than ability. The ones hanging around the bubbler might learn more about what's going on, and know who to call when they have a problem or need information. The ones grinding away in their cube just send stuff up the chain of command. And I know how weak the links can be in those chains.

Re:The water cooler is really important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466729)

That depends on how you measure "performance." If performance means the boss likes you because you kiss his ass, then the water cooler crowd are the better-performing group. At my office every slacker and incompetent boob walks around striking up conversations in order to forge friendly alliances as an insurance policy against facing consequences for their incompetence. They are the ass-kissers, bullshitters, and the ones engaged in office politics and gossip. In other words, the ones that need to be fired if real performance is to be improved. I don't know what office you work in, but that's how my office is.

In my office there is no telecommuting because the supervisor isn't knowledgeable enough to actually judge the work the employees are doing, but rather is a control-freak and micromanager that has to "see" that you are busy. Of course it's easy to look busy without doing anything at all, and that's what happens a lot of the time here. Anyone in any office knows who needs to be fired in order to get some real improvement, but as with most companies, the bullshitters and ass-kissers rise to the top. Such companies deserve the management they have.

It's a control problem (1)

Wansu (846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466235)

Many bosses like to be able to pop in unannounced to check up on employees and keep them honest. That's not so easy when they telecommute. It's hard to tell how long they "worked".

As the price of gas soars, it's becoming irresponsible to force all this commuting. Even if it's just 1 or 2 days a week, it reduces traffic. pollution and improves employees lives.

Re:It's a control problem (1)

ponden (977893) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466270)

Even if we are in the office, controlling workers are difficult. (we like avoiding the control and watching the web site).

In addition that, communication is a matter of cource very important even for the brain work. Co-working in the same office have advantages of communication.

Our project membrers are suffering from communication problem of the offshoring work :-(

Webcam? (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466347)

If I could telecommute, I would gladly keep an "always on" webcam available so anyone who wanted could peer in if they wanted. I'd even let it record so it could be reviewed.

I'm not one to usually do so, but I'd trade that bit of liberty for the convenience of telecommuting. I don't mind if people want to watch me work.


Re:It's a control problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466538)

As the price of gas soars, it's becoming irresponsible to force all this commuting.
Thanks for enlightening us!!
Silly me from Europe thinking that the irresponsible thing was to drive 300hp, 4.5liter gas-guzzling monsters to work....

But i guess i was wrong in thinking THAT was the reason for the price you pay at a gas station.

How can you measure efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466248)

How can you measure efficiency if the guy works at home? That's the problem.

Re:How can you measure efficiency? (2, Insightful)

subterfuge (668314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466519)

Very simple: is the work being completed on time and in an acceptable volume?

If the answers are yes than you have an efficient telecommuter, if not , you don't. And if the manager can't get this through their cobweb filled head then THEY are not operating efficiently and should be replaced.

This is just another case of beating on the worker because of ineffectual management.

Re:How can you measure efficiency? (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466732)

>How can you measure efficiency if the guy works at home? That's the problem.

Some jobs have a direct, measurable effect on the bottom line. Bet they aren't the ones being cut.

Re:How can you measure efficiency? (2, Informative)

the packrat (721656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467004)

Some jobs have a direct, measurable effect on the bottom line. Bet they aren't the ones being cut.

And it's for this precise reason that companies in trouble almost always fire all of the engineers and people producing product while ramping up the sales force.

The next step is left as an exercise for the reader.

Can you spell 'micromanage'? (1)

Pensacola Tiger (538962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466251)

I knew you could. This appears to be a company floundering around trying any possible solution to its business problems than the real one - return to making a high quality product and then stand behind it. Yes, let's blame those slackers that are at home drinking coffee on company time rather than the idiots that decide corporate policies. My last HP purchase was a LaserJet IIP some twenty years ago. When it finally went to printer heaven, I looked around at what they were offering, read the user comments on service and support and bought a Brother. By the way, is this the same HP that 'believes' that end users will pay more for a replacement ink cartridge than a new printer? Can you spell 'doomed'? I knew you could.

Add to this HP's Real Estate consolidation... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466264)

At the same time as all the IT staff have been told to come back in to the offices to work, HP is also undertaking a massive reduction in real estate.

The building management teams are going nuts trying to fit more people in less capacity. They weren't warned about the telecommuting initiative when planning began for the consolidations.

Many staff are having their cube-space halved, some of the hot-desking areas are not much bigger than 1sq metre. Teams that are being told they have to come back in are sometimes getting half the cubes they need for the number in the team, so many have to hot-desk.

Adding to this, HP's closing many smaller outlying sites and those people have to travel to the bigger sites. The buildings will certainly be crammed to the rafters with people.

This does not make sense from a mgmt standpoint (5, Insightful)

raoul Pop (959233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466330)

Here are my thoughts on this:

* 180-degree turns are traumatic, and don't turn out well. This is one such change, and it will be messy and painful. It will alienate a lot of bright folks. From a management standpoint, it's not right. Change is best done gradually, and by co-opting people.

* Making the bright people come into the office in order to straighten out the poor performers, as HP's CIO hints, is yet another silly decision. Yes, I can tell you certain IT personnel should be on-site, but not everyone needs to be there. If HP's IT workforce is peppered with poor employees, this is a recruitment/management issue, not a telecommuting issue. The decision is a non sequitur. If your tire is flat, plugging the exhaust pipe won't solve the problem. Seems to me a much better solution would be to pair up the poor performers with good performers who live in the same area, and have them work together on issues, whether it's at someone's home or my IM/phone. Training would also be another solution.

I wrote about this in more detail here: http://www.comeacross.info/2006/06/04/hp-to-cancel -telecommuting-for-its-it-division/ [comeacross.info] .

HP was once a company admired by everyone. (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466343)

There are a lot of computer companies that, in my opinion, sell garbage products, products that cause IT professionals grief, or would if they weren't eliminated.

HP's products are worse than garbage, in my experience. They are scary garbage. I tried to un-install an HP printer driver and the un-install program deleted more than 900 files in the WinNT folder, files belonging to the operating system, not HP.

An HP technical support person told me to solve a problem with an HP printer driver by renaming an HP file so the driver could not be used.

Another HP technical support person told me to solve a problem with an HP network printer driver by not trying to use the network facility.

When installing an HP printer, it has been common that there are error messages. This is during installation. We stopped buying HP products because of that.

It's sad to see HP on a downward spiral. Lou Platt was a terrible manager. Carly Fiorina was FAR worse. I'm guessing the company is rated about 0.1 Enron now.

Watch for this: The top managers of HP will destroy the company, but will still take home tens of millions of dollars in salary and "bonuses", as Carly Fiorina did. Top managers have become enemies of companies and enemies of society.

I don't know if this is true, but it has been said that HP would not be profitable if the company could not sell Inkjet printer ink for $800 per gallon. If that is true, then it is possible that HP is not primarily a computer company, but is primarily an "expoiter of customer ignorance" company.

HP was once a company admired by everyone.

I agree with previous comments that probably HP is planning to fire the employees.

Nicole C. Wong, the author of the article did a surprisingly good job in writing it. Normally business writers are clueless about technology.

Edwards: George W. Bush is the "worst president of our lifetime" [go.com] .

Re:HP was once a company admired by everyone. (0)

DharmaDog (649177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466440)

"I don't know if this is true, but it has been said that HP would not be profitable if the company could not sell Inkjet printer ink for $800 per gallon."

It's not true. At all. I'd quit commenting on this subject before you demonstrate exactly how little you know about HP.

Change for the sake of change... (1)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466345)

I don't remember who said, "Change is the only thing that really stays the same", but it's appropriate. There are advantages and disadvantages to working at home, and HP has decided that this week they want to reap the benefits of team-based collaboration. Maybe it's as simple as a new manager wanting to have whatever managers are n levels below him directly indoctrinate these telecommuters to his way of thinking.

I hope they let the employees keep their VPN equipment and computers at home, and give them comp time for clever ideas they implement from home. Otherwise, HP will certainly lose its most dedicated workers. And, if they have built up a slacker culture that exploits telecommuting and rips off the company, one can only hope they will lose that too, but I think it's a little less certain.

IBM ads? (2, Insightful)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466411)

HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter and allow them to be more effective

Kind of like in those IBM advertisements in magazines where the guy goes crazy and duct tapes the entire office staff together. That'll certainly make everyone collaborate better.

I work for HP... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466420)

And sweet sassy molassy is the IT department horrible. We have a 30 page document for getting anything fixed. We call a number that routes us to India (actual HP India, not an outsourcer though) who are typically not at the office. They gather the details and then when they are near a computer they put in a trouble ticket, which gets routed to someone in Boise, Palo Alto or Colorado. Who then call us for details. Its good times.

Global teams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15466469)

the big problem with ending telecommuting to bring the teams together is that each team is scattered over the 25 sites. until the teams are changed so the whole team is in the same office this just adds real commute time to the day before you can call or im your colleagues in some other part of the world. ok, yes I'm bitter about it.

Manager envy? (1)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466523)

What does a manager do all day when the staff are working from home?

Manager job security might just depend on there being an office full of people.

Re:Manager envy? (1)

1lapracer (970110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466755)

Yep, some managers sit in their office and do nothing just like some developers do. If I am not interacting with my team, I get the joys of doing hr paperwork, setting goals and objectives, fending off senseless work for my team, finding good projects for my team. This didn't touch on handling soft skill problems like team problems, getting rid of employees that are sucking the life out of the company and trying to move the good ones forward in their career. This gets done between trying to fight production problems. I know which one of my team (25 plus) work and don't. The greatest monitoring system is your peers. Good people hate loafers and the unskilled......

i telecommuted for 3 years... (1)

fl!ptop (902193) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466547)

...and found that, as with almost any situation, there were good and bad things associated with it.

the good: i can work in my underwear if i like, i can set my own hours, i can get a sandwich anytime i'm hungry, i can smoke at my desk, and i can accomplish more in 40 hours than someone who's constantly bothered by office distractions.

the bad: i stopped taking showers and wearing clothes regularly, i got migraine headaches from concentrating too hard, i gained weight, my house stinks like cigarettes, and sometimes house distractions are worse than office distractions.

what did i learn? one thing was that i noticed my bosses started heaping more work on me because they wanted me to work overtime. i guess those who worked at the office regularly put in overtime because the distractions caused them to require more time to finish a project than had been planned. of course, i was salaried, and would have none of unpaid overtime, so i concentrated even harder and shut out more of what was going on around me in order to finish my work in 40 hours/week. the result? migraine headaches.

the thing that irked me the most about telecommuting is that the office dwellers sometimes forget that those who work elsewhere can't attend company picnics, softball games, or lunch for all at the local restaurant. so when they email all@companynamehere.com and announce that tonight's softball game is at 6:30 instead of 6:00 it leaves a 'left out' kind of feeling to those who work there but can't be around physically.

it lasted 3 years. that was all i could take. incidentally, the migraines are gone.

Screw Employee Morale (2, Funny)

Hasai (131313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466568)

"By August, almost all of HP's IT employees will have to work in one of 25 designated offices during most of the week. Those who don't wish to make this change will be out of work without severance pay."

And the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Coffeepot Conferences (3, Insightful)

taosystems (930479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466569)

Perhaps they realized that there's value in gosipping over the coffeepots, durring 'break' times. Engineers are used to kibizing on each other's projects.

Telecommuters who live far from "Work Centers" (1)

COredneck (598733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466675)

Here is an interesting problem. You as a telecommuter live about at least 200+ miles from the nearest work center. Will the company pay for the expense of you to move in closer plus the cost of housing ? Some people might choose to live in rural areas since cost of living such as property is much cheaper than living in a big city.

In my experience. I live in Colorado. In my old job with a manager who was an asshat, it mentioned to me that if I wanted to continue to work, I should consider jobs in the Washing DC area. I asked if there would be relocation reimbursements. He told me of course not. With my refusal to move to the East Coast, he told me it would be detrimental to my career. I am still paying for my refusal such as getting turned down for a promotion. The company I work for, if you are turned down for a promotion, you cannot apply for another one for at least 2 years.

Dumb (1)

sane? (179855) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466728)

This is an extremely dumb move. Not only is this PHB going to royally piss people off, just so that he can confuse matters enough that there is no tracability in his performance - he is implementing this bone headed plan at just the moment when oil prices mean telecommuting should be extended further.

If there are issues with the performance of some, that is cause to change the system, not throw everything out and make it worse for the majority. The 'everyone round the watercooler, discussing problems' idea in reality doesn't require the watercooler - it requires the culture where those that have the knowledge are recognised in their passing it on. I'll bet that it isn't in HP.

Two obvious solutions could be tried. Either companies could be forced to pay the commuting costs of their staff (that would make them understand that fuel costs are not a joke); or the HP staff could club together and pay to get this jerk wacked. Overall the second is probably best for the long term future of the company.

Face time... (1)

js290 (697670) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466834)

Managerial ability seem to always be inversely proportional to face time.

Bad Move (5, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466840)

My other half works for HP, within the IT infrastructure, here in the UK and she is fully aware of this new directive coming out of her employer.

In her internal consulting role, she liases with HP people both in Europe and the USA - consequently, she can start work at 7am (for the Europeans) and finish as late as 9pm (for the Americans). No, she doesn't do a 14-hour day everyday but I would say that she averages out about 10 hours per day and she *does* work all of that time - so whilst she's contracted for a 40-hour week, she easily puts in 45-50 hours a week based on the number of days she works from home currently.

Her current office, in Reading, is about 30 minutes drive from our home - she goes in about twice a week, she tends to start for 8am in the morning and aims to finish about 5pm to the gym on her way home. So whilst she does do 8 hours in the office a day, it's generally less hours per day than working from home.

Now consider this. The Reading campus is closing in July and she (and her colleagues) are being moved to the Bracknell campus, about an additional 30 minutes on her travel time from our house. She will not be able to have her own desk because (apparently) HP have a *shortage* of several thousand permanent desks in the UK - so even when she gets to her office, she's no guarantee of getting a desk.

So, in summary, now that she will have to spend two hours in the car daily (as opposed to one hour twice a week), she will make up that additional travel time from the additional hours she put in at home each week because she sees no reason why her personal & entertainment time needs to suffer - consequently, HP get less work out of her.

Bright-sizing (1)

DSP_Geek (532090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466863)

Happens when you piss off your employees so the smart ones get jobs elsewhere and you're left with the dregs who can't. Could someone tell HP manglement "Dilbert" is supposed to be a humour strip, not a documentary?

Totally hypocritical (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466978)

Carly Fiorina was the strongest proponent of sending American jobs to India, effectively creating an entire industry of telecommuting.

Now HP is saying telecommuting is bad?

Face it. Corporations want to be slave-drivers, and it's only through democratic lawmaking that we keep them from getting their wish.

Typical manager (1)

qray (805206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15466981)

Rather than deal with the source of the problem just uproot the entire system. Dealing with the source of the problem would require managers to actually expend some effort to figure out who is valuable and doing work and who is not.

This is just a typical least effort solution to a problem. Not suprising that Wall Street views this guy as a brain child as that group is quite content to view the world using simplistic numerical equations. This group is also driving most of corporate world to short term thinking and solutions that often lead to their demise or stunt the growth of the company.

And no, I am not an HP employee.

Telecommuting... (2, Interesting)

Ngwenya (147097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15467021)

(ObDisclaimer: I work for HP IT. But if you're looking for a "Randy Mott/Mark Hurd Sucks" message, this isn't it. HP has a very vocal set of internal fora for bitching at management. I do my whining through the media which might actually effect change. Slashdot, I'm afraid, isn't it).

Firstly, the policy of colocation is not just tied to telecommuters - the idea is to centralise a highly distributed IT workforce. So, eventually, nearly all IT workers will need to relocate to a few central locations. The teleworkers are just first on the list for relocation.

Secondly the problem for many IT firms is not telecommuting per se, it's the fact that we've just sleepwalked into teleworking without a clear business analysis as to whether the business operations can effectively sustain this model of working in each case. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can't. Now, this is a historic failure of management - senior employees get sufficiently pissed off with life in the Bay Area, or Houston, or Atlanta, and feel the need to get a quieter life in Dogshit, Nebraska. Fine and dandy - but it's effective management to say "Sorry, we can't have you in your current job doing that". Neither mean, nor incorrect - just a manager doing his/her job in keeping the department going. But we don't do that - we just say "Yeah, sure. Get an ADSL line, we'll be cool". Sometimes it's true - sometimes it's not. Now - how do you pull that position back into line? In HP, that's Randy Mott's problem. He's got a system that's been allowed to grow wild in many areas and is, to all intents and purposes, out of control.

Randy Mott has an extremely aggressive set of targets in trying to push up the efficiency of HP's IT. Maybe he's going about it the wrong way - if so, he'll pay with his job.

--Ng (not in any way speaking for HP, HP IT, or Randy)
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