Business

Axed from IBM for remote working? Don't go crying to HPE

Meg Whitman doesn't have time for work-at-home slackers

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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HPE Discover Chalk up Hewlett Packard Enterprise as being among the crop of tech giants demanding workers clock in at an office every day.

CEO Meg Whitman told El Reg on Wednesday that in order to right the ship at her newly severed enterprise company, employees need to be on premises and able to get together in meatspace.

"When you're in a turnaround, making decisions in real time, conference calls don't work," Whitman said.

"Under my predecessor there was a bit of a move to work at home; we have really encouraged people to come into the office."

Whitman took over from Léo Apotheker as head of HP in 2011. When the IT titan split in 2015 to form HP Inc and HPE, she became the head of HPE, and set about turning around a string of disappointing financial returns.

In order to do that, Whitman argues, she needs butts firmly planted in seats, in Palo Alto and elsewhere. Since 2013, she has been asking employees to come into the office.

"If your business is up and to the right, people can telework all year long," Whitman says. "When you are in the middle of a turnaround, you need to come into an office."

Whitman's sentiments echo those of execs at IBM, who earlier this year began a wholesale culling of remote workers by forcing staff to clock in at one of six offices around the US. While IBM has said that the policy was to improve collaboration and communication within teams, employees have speculated that it's also a not-so-subtle effort to rid itself of older workers in less-profitable parts of the company.

We've also heard that Oracle, from the end of last year, started cracking down on remote workers, requiring various staff living within 50 miles of their office to commute in.

In the case of HPE, Whitman says her policy is based purely on the need to get things done faster, and that means not having to wait to hear back from someone working out of a home office, or fuss with setting up conference calls and online meetings.

"Digital tools are great, but having a conversation face-to-face is a faster means to an end," she said.

We're guessing that sentiment won't go over too well at HPE's MyRoom product team. ®

PS: Check out our sister site The Next Platform's analysis of HPE's financial predicament: no one can make money in systems.

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