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AT&T Calls Telecommuters Back To the Cubicle

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the land-of-the-pointy-haired dept.

Businesses 393

bednarz writes "AT&T is requiring thousands of employees who work from their homes to return to traditional office environments, sources say. 'It is a serious effort to reel in the telework people,' says the Telework Coalition's Chuck Wilsker, who has heard that as many as 10,000 or 12,000 full-time teleworkers may be affected. One AT&T employee says rumors have been circulating since AT&T's merger with SBC that the new upper management is not supportive of teleworking: 'We'd heard rumors to that effect, and all of a sudden we got marching orders to go back to an office.'"

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393 comments

penis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425197)

long shlong silver!

Good Point. (-1, Offtopic)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425485)

You know, now I truly appreciate those people who post lengthy excerpts from gay child-porn novels as first posts. Most people mod them down and ignore them, but it's actually a scathing commentary on how crappy the discussion on this site has become.

These gay child-rape porn first AC's that post that stuff are, in essence saying, "You know what? I pay enough attention to /. to be a first poster. But instead of trying to say something good, I'm going to post graphic text describing gay child-rape porn because, no matter what, I bet that the crap that follows will at least equal or exceed the suck of gay child-rape porn. It won't be because it's as offensive, but it'll suck just as hard because nobody bothers to actually comment on the substantial technical aspects of the article in question, and within three posts, you'll be blaming the Neocon-Libertarian Conspiracy and Microsoft for stealing babies and grinding them up for taco meat."

Re:Good Point. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425843)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young ass. I found not only the smell but the
shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of shit, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating ass
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that shit nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of shit.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Shadow Layoff? (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425261)

My guess is that ATT is betting that a large percentage of the teleworkers will either resign, or come back with such bad attitudes that they will be fired "for cause" shortly after their return.

The reality is that, in the current business environment, it is better for your career to be mildly competent but in plain sight that extremely competent but hidden at home.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425433)

They probably figure - correctly - that they can accomplish as much with half the staff. Most telecommuters suck.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (4, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425503)

The unfortunate thing is businesses like this don't realize that while teleworkers can be distracted at home easier, many tend to do more and better work because they are comfortable at home and don't have anyone looking over their shoulder. Additionally, they don't have to waste a ton of time commuting and thus have more hours in the day to work. This does depend on the type of person working from home as some are more capable than others and some need the pressure of a boss looking over their shoulder to work, but I bet you're absolutely correct in assuming this is their "simple" way of laying off some of their workers.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (1)

viking099 (70446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425639)

I worked for some folks one time who "rewarded" problem employees with telecommuting. This was at a call center for a state wide group who had extremely busy queues and very little down time.

Morale was pretty low by the time upper management started to notice what the call center manager was doing.

Telecommuting wasn't cheap for us, either. We were extending dialtone from the central switch to wherever those folks lived, and paying over a dollar a month per mile for those lines, plus the fees for the call center services we needed on the line. We had some single phone lines costing us over $1000 a year, and we had dozens of telecommuters.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425823)

I'm sure that in that case, the telecommuting workers probably didn't do much better either way (at least if they were "problem" employees overall and not just when at work and under pressure)

I'm sure if AT&T were doing the same thing because problem workers were sent telecommuting, then the layoff would be more deserved, but as the GGP post said, this probably is just a way to layoff employees easily and without accountability.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (5, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425763)

The unfortunate thing is businesses like this don't realize that while teleworkers can be distracted at home easier, many tend to do more and better work because they are comfortable at home and don't have anyone looking over their shoulder.

Every firm would be well served to do 100% telecommuting for a period of time, forcing them to re-evaluate how they judge the contributions of their team.

The sad reality is that many shops judge contribution simply by sacrifice and hours, and lots of face time presence, using that as a surrogate for any meaningful metrics at all. This is the root reason why most shops despise telecommuting, and why it's often a negative career step for a worker to undertake: Telecommute and you have to do double, triple, or more what your coworkers are doing to get the same respect, whereas showing up early each day and staying late is often a blanket immunity from any sort of real responsibilities or deliverables.

With rising energy costs, shops will have to start to become accustomed to telecommuting. As others have said, it's particularly hilarious that a company that is a foundational facilitator of telecommuting is the one going against the trend to decentralize.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (5, Insightful)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425945)

The sad reality is that many shops judge contribution simply by sacrifice and hours, and lots of face time presence, using that as a surrogate for any meaningful metrics at all. This is the root reason why most shops despise telecommuting, and why it's often a negative career step for a worker to undertake: Telecommute and you have to do double, triple, or more what your coworkers are doing to get the same respect, whereas showing up early each day and staying late is often a blanket immunity from any sort of real responsibilities or deliverables.

With rising energy costs, shops will have to start to become accustomed to telecommuting. As others have said, it's particularly hilarious that a company that is a foundational facilitator of telecommuting is the one going against the trend to decentralize.
Right with you on that one. A worker is much quicker to gain professional and personal relationships by physically going into work. I do think it depends on how fond the business you're working for is of telecommuting regarding how good/bad that is as a career move, but you are VERY correct in pointing out the irony in a telecommunications company suddenly frowning on their own workers telecommuting.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (5, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426279)

The unfortunate thing is businesses like this don't realize that while teleworkers can be distracted at home easier, many tend to do more and better work because they are comfortable at home and don't have anyone looking over their shoulder.

I agree.

As a person who receives the phone call when the VPN isn't working, BB isn't communicating, or something else that they need to work from home, I will attest that when you let people work at home they will work all the time and more than they should without proper pay.

I've been tempted to tell people, "Its 6pm on a holiday... Don't you have a family or something. Sheesh! Do you want to call the server admin who is probaly eating with his family right now and tell him to drive into the office to reboot a fax server who no one is using except you? I mean... Your not even the CEO, a VP, a manager, or even their assistant! Is this really going to cause a loss of money to the buisiness? By doing this do you think you'll get a raise? Or even a pat on the back? This is why I have high blood pressure!"

But I don't say it. Anyways...

I've met plenty of people who work great from home and all the damn time. In fact I wish they would work less so I could spent more time not having to work in the office, but that is just me.

It really depends on if the job requires constant supervising, but over all when you work from home you end up at your job 24/7 unlike me who goes home and turns off my phone for the weekend and doesn't check his email (which is why I won't work a telecommuting job).

The ATT suits have it wrong here. If they want to grind as much productivity out of willing slaves, they just need to hand everyone a laptop, blackberry, a Verizon card, and tell them they are working from home from here on with salary as their pay (not hourly) and no sick time and no vacation (hey you are already at home) and there is no esxcuse for having the deadline missed because you have been at work the entire time.

Which is why I will never work from home. Hopefully I didn't give any CEOs some ideas here.

Re:Shadow Layoff? (1, Redundant)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425887)

Or maybe someone in power thinks that most telecommuters are goofing off at home. Plus you can't force people to attend useless meetings if they telecommute.

Oh No! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425265)

First they call you to the office, next thing you know they're going to want you to communicate! If this goes on for too long we may actually have to work.

Re:Oh No! (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426119)

The irony is that this is coming from a company that should be promoting the cutting edge of telecommuting technology. At the very least they should promote telecommuting to sell high speed data links between work and home and video conferencing. I think they've lost sight of their core business.

I hope they all quit! (2, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425291)

They should all quit! AT&T is the worst company out there. I don't know where the regulatory agencies get off letting them merge and become larger when they where born by being broken up because they had become too large and powerful and didn't give a crap about the consumer because there was no competition. Now we have this! Plus didn't AT&T cut a bunch of their workers pension plans? If I worked for AT&T this would be the last straw. Of course I can't see myself every working for such a company.

Re:I hope they all quit! (5, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425495)

Thats what AT&T WANTS.
AT&T can't reasonably afford to lay off 10K workers. Thats very expensive.
They know that many of their telecommuting workers have built their lives around telecommuting, meaning they just simply can't start going to work. Many of them might not even have reliable transportation. AT&T knows that of the 12K workers they are telling to come back to work possibly half may just quit. AT&T would love this.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425747)

Couldn't some sort of lawsuit be brought against them though. They can't just get rid of people by making huge changes to their jobs, and expecting them to leave. If that was the case, why not just change it so that they were required to work in some remote town in Alaska. I bet you that just about everyone would quit. I'm pretty sure you can't tell someone their job is moving, and that if they don't like it, they can just quit, and get no compensation. I'm sure the same could be said for switching a position from telecommuting to non-telecommuting.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

xenophyx (977988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425825)

Isn't that an aspect of what unions are for? Protection from "Change in working conditions" or whatever they call it?

None the less, you can count me as glad I don't work for AT&T right now.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

Loether (769074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425909)

I'm pretty sure you can't tell someone their job is moving, and that if they don't like it, they can just quit, and get no compensation.
IANAL but my state, Texas, is an "at will" employment state. The employer OR employee can end the employment relationship at any time for any reason as long as it's not an illegal reason e.g. (race, religion etc). You have zero recourse.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425977)

If you're laid off, you can receive unemployment benefits (a chunk of which the employer must pay). If you're fired for cause, it costs the employer nothing.

Re:I hope they all quit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426317)

The person you're responding to is absolutely right, and this has nothing to do with "at will" employment; of course AT&T can "end the employment relationship" (lay them off) without notice. If job conditions are changed sufficiently, however, what the employer is legally doing is laying off their employee and offering them another job - if they don't accept, they haven't quit, they have been laid off and therefore are eligible for unemployment insurance. That also has nothing to do with "at will" employment. I suspect that changing to no longer allow teleworking isn't enough for that to kick in, however.

Please don't take this the wrong way (2, Insightful)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426101)

Couldn't some sort of lawsuit be brought against them though.


I don't have anything against you personally, but that question makes me want to slap you.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425913)

I thought you had 2 weeks notice lay offs in the U.S., no strings attached..

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

no1nose (993082) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426187)

There is no notice required in the US. I was laid off once at 10:00 am, along with the rest of my department. We were asked to leave right after the meeting.

Re:I hope they all quit! (2, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425513)

succinctly, {nerd} XOR {AT&T droid}.

With the notable exception of the research labs.

Re:I hope they all quit! (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425541)

I think it's funny that the very company that could benefit most from the telecommuting trend won't allow it for their own workers. I expect it to just be politics rather than a decision based on objective data.

Re:I hope they all quit! (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425867)

Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how much that many data lines cost? It's not like AT&T can just get a bulk discount on them or anything...

Re:I hope they all quit! (-1, Offtopic)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426065)

Uh... A VPN connection over a normal home DSL or cablemodem internet connection is sufficient to do almost anything most telecommuting workers require, at least in terms of computer access.

No dedicated hardware or lines required.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1, Informative)

protolith (619345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426155)

Sniff, Sniff, I think you just stepped in some sarcasm, I guess you can't smell it....

Re:I hope they all quit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425865)

Are you nuts? You want 10 or 12 thousand additional people applying for the same jobs as you?

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426069)

I doubt seriously that any of these people could handle desktop support for 50-100 people with another 100-200 people supported remotely.

Re:I hope they all quit! (3, Insightful)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425967)

They should all quit! AT&T is the worst company out there.

I think that's what the company is trying to accomplish.

Re:I hope they all quit! (1)

encoderer (1060616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426057)

They're allowed to re-merge because Telecom is in a different statosphere today than it was in the ealy 1980's. When it was broken-up there really was NO COMPETITION to AT&T for "last mile" service. Today there are ubiquitous cell phone network(S!) as well as the internet and all the WiFi & VOIP goodness.

Are they telecommuting over the Internet? (4, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425347)

Maybe the company just doesn't want their internal telecommuting communications to be subject to the federal wiretapping they are performing, keeping it all in-house on their LAN.

Re:Are they telecommuting over the Internet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425675)

I'd guess that the NSA has better things to do than going into business against AT&T.

eating your own dogfood? (5, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425371)

You know, if Boeing were to reel in their telecommuters, that is one thing. But this is the freakin' phone and network company saying that a phone and network just don't cut it as the primary ways to communicate professionally. What sort of message is this going to signal to big corporate customers who want to spend tons of cash on promoting and providing telecommuting solutions for their own staffs? Oh, yeah, nothing.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425401)

You're absolutely right. Perhaps it's the "phone company" at heart, still, and not so much the network company.

A rose by any other name ... (1)

tiananmen tank man (979067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425845)

Perhaps the "phone company" is just a comapany like any other company, and has found out that the telecommuter's job can be outsourced. I can just imagine some worker in India is piss mad cause some American telecommuter stole his job.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (2, Informative)

FinanceGeek (661887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425525)

I spent some time at AT&T and found management to be quite shortsighted - this move doesn't surprise me a bit.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (0, Troll)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425587)

Most employees aren't responsible enough to be as effective at home as they are at work.

Most managers aren't skilled at and don't have the tools for monitoring effectiveness, particularly in offices where "effectiveness" is often measured by whether or not you can drop everything the second your boss gets a new idea for you to work on.

The problem really isn't that the internet and phone network aren't cutting it, but that the people aren't cutting it.

I'm reminded of the late 90s tech boom stories out of California where people get to put "KUNG FU NINJA" on their business cards instead of their functional job titles, wear Birkenstocks and torn jean shorts on Fridays (and then every day) and otherwise show up for work looking as if their daily agenda consisted of checking the mail and eating cookies while watching television. The problem isn't "casual Fridays" or a looser dress code, the problem is how far people push it.

Face it, if you have to deal with customers (particular those of us who have to deal with them at their offices and not ours), it's hard to instill any degree of confidence when you're dressed like a chump who doesn't own anything nicer than a t-shirt. Similarly, it's hard to instill any degree of confidence in your supervisors when you're not around.

Did you miss that call because you were on another one, or because you were still sleeping? Did you neglect that email because you're busy making serious progress on another matter, or because you're playing WoW? Did you log 4 hours in 8 because your internet was being flaky, or because you disconnected and went to do some shopping? Did you fail at a particular task despite your high level of effort or because of the lack thereof? Your presence is your case: if you're not around to make it, rest assured, someone else will make it for you, and assume the worst. And you'll push the issue yourself because there's no longer any separation between work space and home/play space. Most people don't have the discipline for it.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

Retric (704075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425805)

If you can't tell if someone is producing value by their output why do you need them? Someone can answer all the email you want, but if that's not their job then why would you evaluate them a useless metric? People are not productive just because you are looking at them. You need to give them something to do and then evaluate their output.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425861)

Most employees aren't responsible enough to be as effective at home as they are at work.

I've found the opposite to be true. People feel as if they're being held responsible for actually doing something if they're working for home. Where as if they show up at the office, they feel they've done their part, and spend hours in other people's cube, chatting for 5 minutes about the project, and and hour about other BS. Then they spend 20 minutes grabbing a cup of coffee.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426095)

I tend to be much more productive at home than I am in the office. If I'm extremely busy, I find it's much better to stay home. The week before I went on vacation I stayed home, and I was working until my wife told me it was time to leave for the airport (and I gave my boss an update on where I was in the cab).

So today, when I'm posting on Slashdot? Yeah, I'm in the office.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426303)

The four months I spent telecommuting was the most productive four months of programming in my life. Unfortunately, it was too productive-- after I finished up the project and it worked without any major flaws, they decided they didn't need me anymore (probably due to the oft-cited factors such as visibility, with a dash of nepotism).

Re:eating your own dogfood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425609)

Quite ironic. Here they are promoting their telecommunications to companies which employ telecommuters, but they themselves don't think its a good idea. Not for cause, mind you. I'm sure this has more to do with some pointy-haired boss who doesn't understand how this will hurt more than help.

I worked for two years as a software programmer for a small contract firm. We had a small office, but chose to all telecommute. Our main problem wasn't productivity - that was great - it was more finding work. We were kind of a niche market at the time (Macintosh development), and Apple was busy shooting itself in the foot (i.e. pre-Steve Jobs' return). If the market had been better I'm sure I'd still be with that company, because I did enjoy working so much at home. It was productive and liberating at the same time. It also didn't hurt that I was a co-owner in the company.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425807)

Exactly. I work for a large company who makes hardware exclusively for mobile communications. While they don't seem to mind the very occasional work from home day, they really frown on any extended time away from the office. Big push lately for laptops and mobile data cards too. They even offer a considerable discount for us to purchase them, but I honestly can't even imagine a use for one at this point, given their attitudes about working remotely.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (2)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425829)

That's 10-12K people that now have to commute back and forth to work everyday, need real estate for offices, furniture, etc. What a waste of time, money, and energy.

Re:eating your own dogfood? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426211)

The last company I worked for sold software that processes more than 1/3 of the checks written in the United States. They paid all of their employees and most other bills electronically.

Goes to show you... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425423)

Never trust the Suits.

Most of them probably don't even know what telecommuting is.

Most of them probably don't have a computer in their office. That's for the 'help' to deal with.

MOst probably can't spell 'email'.

Re:Goes to show you... (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425841)

Yep. I used to work at a high-tech research consortium.

The CEO didn't have a computer, he had his secretary print out all his e-mails. Then she would type his responses for him...after he wrote them down on paper.

And we paid him about half a million a year, plus perks.

Re:Goes to show you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426129)

Names!

Dammit!

Everyone should know who this fool is. As a shareholder I would be horrifed to learn that we had such an idiot in charge!

Weird... (1)

Uthic (931553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425445)

From the article there's so many negatives to this, that I really fail to understand the reasoning whoever thought this up was using at the time.

If it were me... (1)

saur2004 (801688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425447)

And I was certain that it was a precursor to a downsize anyway......

I would start issuing invoices for fill-ups.

Personally... (5, Insightful)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425479)

if I could find another job in short order paying the same or more money AND one that allowed me to telework, I'd tell the new Lord Vader he could go fuck himself and his death star [kir.com] .

Barring that, how about writing up an article and trying to get it into the New York Times (and other large papers) asking the question: Why is AT&T supporting pollution by requiring 10,000 employees to begin commuting to an office once again? Does AT&T _not_ support a green initiative and want to cut down on its carbon footprint in this world? Does AT&T _not_ support cutting down on vehicle emissions by using the very effective telecommute for work? What does AT&T have against saving the planet?

With the wide variety of people focused on green initiatives, carbon footprinting, greenhouse gases, and trying to save the planet surely some bad press thrown AT&T's way making it look bad on the global stage for, basically, FORCING 10,000+ people to begin commuting to work again after years of working from home... Well, even monopolistic giants can be pimp-slapped in the press. Sometimes.

AT&T - Your world. Delivered. To the NSA.

Re:Personally... (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425799)

Why is AT&T supporting pollution by requiring 10,000 employees to begin commuting to an office once again?
I just asked my boss if I could telecommute using this argument. His exact words? "Fuck the planet."

Re:Personally... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426013)

Your boss is in for a rude awakening when none of his employees show up when gas is $4-$5/gallon.

Companies that can effectively manage telecommuters are going to flourish in short order.

Re:Personally... (1)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426313)

Why would my employer care how much it costs me to get to work? That expenditure is on my shoulders. Despite the 'discount' of owning the lines and services (up to a point), I wonder what the cost breakdown is for AT&T's remote workers. Could this be a cost saving measure, ignoring the quit-vs-fire argument? Do they have lot's of spare office space? It just doesn't make sense, like GM telling all their employees to go drive Hondas...isn't 'coming into the office' the opposite of what AT&T sells?

Re:Personally... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425875)

The vast majority of people just aren't going to care about a green angle in AT&T workers commuting to work. Why? Most people commute to work. If you lived in a town where the majority of roads aren't paved, you're not going to get much sympathy for problems you have with your paved road. An AT&T worker now having the same environmental impact you do getting to and from work isn't going to go anywhere. I think the best angle I've read so far here is pushing the issue that the phone company won't let its workers telecommute any more.

upper management control freaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21425499)

it's a sign of bad management when they can't trust those they manage

of course, the senior people are always the ones who spend the least time 'in the office' in my experience

Obesity (1)

CaligarisDesk (1189113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425511)

Isn't it odd this story comes up right after an article on the obesity epidemic.

Re:Obesity (1)

darthfracas (1144839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425667)

perhaps ATT wants teleworkers to bike to work? that would let them keep their thumbs on everyone and not add to pollution! oh wait, this is ATT, there's no positive motive possible.

Better than telecommuting. (5, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425545)

I have an idea to be at the office and telecommute at the same time: Invent the holodeck.

The office space would actually be a giant holodeck with holographic cubicles and other holographic office equipment. At each employee's home, a much smaller holodeck would be installed. These holodecks would be designed similarly to the ones in Star Trek, but with one small difference: These holodecks would use a superset of the X11 protocol.

Employees at their home holodeck would feel exactly as though they were at the office. Those who physically commute to the office would feel the same way. The residual self images of all the employees logged in to all the holodecks at any given moment would be mapped onto the big office holodeck as well as onto all the smaller holodecks at all the employees' homes.

Besides saving on gasoline, hours wasted commuting, and traffic jams caused on the nation's highways and streets, this approach would have a few additional benefits as well. For one thing, besides purchasing the holodeck, the employer would not have to buy any other equipment or supplies. All desks, chairs, computer workstations, pens, pencils, post-it notepads, lights, water coolers, vending machines, carpets, and those annoying inspirational posters that say things like Teamwork or Persistence, would all be holographically implemented. This would save big on costs for everyone.

Re:Better than telecommuting. (4, Funny)

Zenaku (821866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425859)

That is a great "idea." I have an even better "idea:" Use magic. If we all used magic to create our food, shelter and amenities, nobody would have to work at all, and we could spend our time playing Quiddich.

Re:Better than telecommuting. (2, Funny)

Thrip (994947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426169)

Dude, the Potter books explicitly state that you can't make food with magic. Someone please kill me for knowing this.

Re:Better than telecommuting. (1)

ehlo (578765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426073)

If we are on a holodeck anyway, why not rid ourselves of the damn cubicles?

Re:Better than telecommuting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426139)

I have an idea to be at the office and telecommute at the same time: Invent the holodeck.


Great idea. Make it so!

Re:Better than telecommuting. (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426293)

i have an even better idea: transporters.
then you have the office hire a guy name scottie whom you would call when you needed to beam in.
you'd save on gas, wouldn't have to give up precious house space for a holodeck, and wouldn't have a holodeck to keep powered (which, i imagine, would rack up an electric bill as expensive as a tank of gas during the 8 hour work day).

Re:Better than telecommuting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426309)

All desks, chairs, computer workstations, pens, pencils, post-it notepads, lights, water coolers, vending machines, carpets, and those annoying inspirational posters that say things like Teamwork or Persistence, would all be holographically implemented. This would save big on costs for everyone.

If we could cheaply roll out a holodeck, we'd have it. The thing that you aren't seeing is that we don't have the forcefield tech of Star Teck that really made the holodeck reproduce everything. You also don't consider how much computer power and electricity that it would take to run a holodeck. It may be much cheaper to make all the traditional office crap rather than every office being a holodeck. If I recall correctly, even in Star Trek, every office wasn't a holodeck.

impact (4, Insightful)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425549)


  Something tells me that the delays in commuting, lost productivity from sick days (most telecommuters work while sick), parking/transportation woes, decreased morale and higher turnover, ATT will slowly report that things probably aren't so bad when a % of workers telecommute.

  In fact, I fully expect to see telecommuting plans as a normal part of government recommendations for business during times of terrorism, epidemic or natural disaster. PUtting it bluntly, SBC simply doesn't know where the world is going.

Re:impact (4, Insightful)

skintigh2 (456496) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426163)

That's one hypothesis. Another is that the decision was based on emotion, not logic, and no amount of consequences will matter or even be noticed. Management will get their bonuses no matter what, and if a devision does suffer enough they will just lay off some workers.

Cry me a river (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425575)

So, you won't get to play WOW on the company's dime. You won't get to do your laundry on the company's. You won't get to walk your dog on the company's dime. You won't get to babysit your rugrats on the company's dime.

Don't like it? Get another job.

Re:Cry me a river (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425787)

I agree that these people should get another job. They should also still complain. Because what AT&T is doing is stupid, harms people's lives, and will not increase productivity or communication at all.

beware of "reconcilling" (4, Insightful)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425619)

He says AT&T is in the process of reconciling the human resources policies

Translation: out of the three companies which are merging, let's pick the policy that takes the most away from the employees.

Telecommuting is good for business. (4, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425657)

As the CEO of a successful chain of churches, I can tell you that our televangelists are much more lucrative than our traditional ones.

Global Warming (1)

raptorv99 (790809) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425707)

We can blame global warming on AT&T becasue they are making 10-12k people drive to work...where is the justice in the world.

Joking aside, imagine the cost that AT&T will have to incur in offering a facility, electricity, infrastrucute, and other brick and morter expenses to house 10k+ employees.

Telecommute = Outsourced (4, Insightful)

flerchin (179012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425709)

It has occurred to me recently (and probably to many others before this), that if your job can successfully be performed via telecommute, it can probably successfully be performed in India. Granted, this is not the entire set of telecommuting jobs, but a large portion of them. To that end I have always avoided job opportunities that included a telecommuting option, and instead focused on job opportunities closer to home in the first place.

Re:Telecommute = Outsourced (1)

zootread (569199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425997)

To that end I have always avoided job opportunities that included a telecommuting option, and instead focused on job opportunities closer to home in the first place.

Enjoy your new career as a prostitute.

Re:Telecommute = Outsourced (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426083)

If your job doesn't actually require you to physically move or manipulate something that can only exist locally, your job can be outsourced whether you work in an office or not.

Teleworking works... (1)

jac_at_nac (996340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425723)

People are generally more productive when working from home. Less breaks, more on task, etc etc. Granted they have less face time at the office but this generally works out in favor of both the company and individual. Yes, I do telework about 85% of the time and I know a few people at AT&T that do and will probably continue to do so; as a consultant or otherwise. For all you naysayers...if it doesn't work for you then don't do it but don't harp on the people that it helps over the course of their tenure at said company.

Old management paradigms (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425727)

While the prospect of "shadow layoffs" has some validity, I suspect that what you are seeing is just another case of management cluelessness and an inability to let go of old business models.

Upper management in most organizations either misses the boat, spending time desperately trying to recover (witness MS and the internet, or the Bells and DSL), or just kills the golden goose out of greed and ignorance.

One Way to Reduce Headcount (5, Interesting)

DrEnter (600510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425783)

I was at HP when they did this. They didn't make much of a secret that it was being done to try and drive people away from the company to reduce headcount. I suppose it worked to some extent, as many of the people that were "recalled" were working at remote locations where it was impossible for them to commute to an office location. Those people were effectively laid-off, and without getting the nice HP severance package normally received for the major lay-offs HP was doing at the time.

All I can say is I'm glad that I am out of there. HP is still doing anything they can to make it a miserable place to work so people will leave. Last I heard they just eliminating almost all year-end vacation roll-over (Merry Christmas, employees).

I suspect AT&T will start doing some of this kind of thing now. It is much cheaper for them if employees quit out of frustration then if they have to give them a lay-off package. I suspect they'll see a few more of these "changes" that don't seem to make sense until you look at it as a headcount reduction method.

Expect more of this back and forth. (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425797)

I remember reading an article about HP doing this very same thing last year. They had a fairly large number of telecommuters, and called them back because they didn't feel they could adequately communicate with them. I don't remember the exact quote, but the press release mentioned that they needed "all hands on deck" for whatever they had planned.

I totally see both sides of this issue. On the anti-telework side, you have two camps. The first is the "old-school" executive types who don't believe anyone can be producing anything unless they're physically in the office. That'll never change until they're retired...that's the way they went to work in 1968, and that's the way we do it now. Period. The other group is convinced that, for whatever reason, a telework force just isn't getting anything done. That's entirely possible. It takes _a lot_ of discipline to get stuff done when you're in a comfortable environment.

On the pro-telework side, you have people like me. I live far from my job. To get to one of my possible work locations, I have a choice. I can take a 1.5 hour, 35 mile car trip in horrible traffic or a 1.25 hour 50 mile train ride (which is actually fine except for the time it takes.) That's three hours of totally wasted time a day. When things aren't totally, nuts, I telecommute 1 or 2 days a week. It keeps me sane and productive. Granted, there are some really lazy people out there who just wouldn't be able to handle it. However, for those who have proven they can handle it, it seems to me like it'd be a great privilege to offer. The caveat would then be that if your performance slips, you're back in the office.

IMO, telework is ruined by the percentage of people who use it as an excuse to play World of Warcraft in their PJs instead of doing work. (And I'm waiting for a VM to finish building itself now, so I'm actually working. :-) )

If people could get their act together, telework would really cut down on the cars on the road, reduce fuel usage, and probably take the "pissed-off" edge out of people who have to deal with a long drive to/from work. Going into the physical office for part of the week would also let parents spend more time with their kids at home (balancing it with their work, of course.)

Be Nice If... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425837)

Be nice if this really bit them in the butt, however, with the economy fading that's not likely to happen.

Be funny if everyone showed up on the same day, and the parking lots couldn't even hold them all.

Not for efficiency (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425901)

Happier, more creative workers are the antithesis of call center workers.

Telecommuting is a win-win for employees and employers, resulting in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover. These were among the conclusions of psychologists who examined 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements.

http://www.physorg.com/news114771482.html [physorg.com]


If we spread more misery, people will need more misery-reducing products. AT&T is obviously about to start selling legal, over-the-counter, medical marijuana.

What are they even doing? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425933)

What are 20k people doing that doesn't need to be done on AT&T property? Certainly they're not maintaining or deploying physical infrastructure.

Some quick calculations (0, Offtopic)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 6 years ago | (#21425957)

I just completed my intravenous mobile organic multi trillion cell processor running at 7.9 gazzillion gigahertz(it's based off the new iPhone) and it has calculated that if you add up the letters AT&T and then divide by the Latin letters in COMCAST you get the numeric value 666. Just saying.

Verizon did the same thing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426053)

Several years ago Verizon shut down some office buildings (notably in Florida) and basically forced people to work from home. The company provided the DSL and second phone line and paid to ship the contents of their desks to the houses. Flash forward a few years and those same people were told that they must move back into the office. I know at least one person that chose to pay for their DSL and continue to work from home because it was more convenient.

Basically, upper management no longer supports working from home, regardless of the fact that they can be expected to work nights and weekends, especially to work with India.

What is ultimately a challenge is how to measure worker productivity. The business needs to prove that workers are more productive in one setting over the other, but in the real world, you can't just count lines of code.

AT&T - Call Home (1)

Stoggie (95578) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426063)

You gotta get real with some of these #'s of productivity. Kids, Dog, food beer TV are all distractions that make you get absolutly nothing done. I choose to work in an office because you don't have all those distractions. Sure.. I might loose some time from coworkers but not nearly as much as I would if I had family around. I haven't heard anything about them stopping people working from home after hours. Explain to me how you can tell if someone is messing around at home if thier sales are down or they are busting there butts trying to break even? From a management view, you can't. If everyone is doing great, then there isn't a problem. But apparently AT&T isn't doing so well. You can't sit there and continue to loose money without making a change. Complain all you want, but you should feel fortunate for all the years you got to have all that freedom.

Canadian White Paper (1)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21426135)

Here is a Canadian Government white paper [hrsdc.gc.ca] on the subject.

Quote from the paper "Companies that promote family-friendly workplaces have an edge when it comes to recruitment and retention of skilled employees."

There is a hidden cost of not Telecommuting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21426245)

I've been a telecommuter for 8 years. I have calculated that
  average 200 work days a year
  3 hours a day commute from home into London
  = 8 * 200 * 3 = 4800 hours = 200 days of time not spent traveling to work

  Then then there is the financial cost.
  An annual season ticket is over 4K GBP.

  So, I guestimate that that I can take a hit of around 10K year in salary for working at home
Or the other way round, I'll look for a job that pays 10k a year more if I have to travel to work.

If companies like AT&T want to do this they are IMHO totally crackers.
HP did this to Compaq/DEC people here in the UK after the takeover. Many voted with their feet at not having a desk when they got to the office even before 08:00 in the morning.
This might have been a short term profit for HP but all these people will think long and hard before dealing with HP again.
The downside of this is that the best people (ie the people they can afford to lose the least) will leave first as they can fnd other gainful employment the easiest.
But (sigh) the bean counters rule Ok. And what they say goes regardless of whether or not it is best in the long term for the company.

 
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