As technology has advanced over the past decade, the number of freelance and remote office professionals has increased dramatically. With only an internet connection, employees can work virtually anywhere, and many companies are embracing the perceived benefits (including less money spent on office space) of allowing employees to work remote. However, among this trend, IBM announced a few weeks ago that they are recalling remote employees back to the office, reversing their previous position. They are the first major employer announcing this recall.

Here are three key points to take away from this move:

  • IBM employees working remotely will be forced back into regional offices (an estimated 40% of 380,000 employees)!
  • IBM management now believes that working in an office setting will increase work output in employees.
  • The original decision to have employees working remotely came with the assumption that the company would save on real estate costs, which wasn’t the case.

​IBM has not given reasons for this last point, but let me opine. The more open space you create, the more huddle, conference rooms, and collaborative areas you need. So the space leased does not end up being as small as envisioned. Second, the cost of setting up remote employees is getting more expensive, especially since they have hotel space in their permanent offices. Finally, turnover might be higher. There seems to be a lack of connection to the company when your worker is not in the office. Real estate departments love boasting about how much money they saved (on face value) but not how many people left the company because they moved to an undesirable location. These are some of the negatives we have seen with our own clients who maintain remote workers. While there are a ton of great reasons to have remote employees, there’s always a downside.

So here we go. Is this the beginning of moving people back into the offices? Will we see an increase in demand for in-office employees? If they discover that employees become more productive, then yes. We know one thing for sure: this is a major shift for one of the world’s most iconic companies.

Original article written By Craig Coppola.