Matthew McGovern Director, GRS | Corteq (646)

Matthew McGovern
Director, GRS | Corteq
(646) 760-0851

The age of IoE (Internet of Everything) frees up companies to allow employees to work from wherever they want. After all, since most daily tasks done in an office are performed on a computer, and there are several ways to remotely monitor a worker’s productivity and accomplishments, why does location matter?

Apparently, it’s still important for some executives to have their employees show up in offices, regardless of whether or not their tasks can be done from home. IBM recently announced that it is giving its employees an employment-location choice: leave the home office and start working at a regional IBM branch, or quit the company.

Once thought of as a groundbreaker in the remote-working space, IBM is making the change because “bringing small, self-directed agile teams in these fields together,” a spokesperson told the Charlotte News & Observer. The tech company follows Bank of America and Yahoo, which have undertaken similar switches over the last few years.

However, there are plenty of critics who say that the move will backfire and that it certainly didn’t work for Yahoo, which just combined with AOL, creating Oath. said that there would be more company acceptance of employees working outside of the office this year. Reasons for this include catering to the “wandering careerist,” or skilled workers who prefer to live a lifestyle of travel, and the constant rollout of software and apps that make working from anywhere easier.

A recent survey of office workers also found that only seven percent feel that they are more effective employees at an office setting as opposed to a different locale. Millennials also reportedly expect out-of-office flexibility out of their careers.

One of the problems IBM could face is “backlash and the loss of good employees,” according to one columnist, who points out that about 40 percent of the company’s workforce primarily does business in a remote office, and this sudden change won’t be welcome. A Bloomberg columnist points out that Apple is making the same mistake with its large new headquarters, and that both companies, which at one time were pioneers in remote working, could lose employees.

Regardless of whether or not the shift is going to work for IBM, it likely gives office landlords some assurance: At least one large tenant is striving to keep this commercial real estate asset class filled, leading to the possibility that IBM vacancy rates won’t change in certain markets.