Dell Technologies Mandates Workers Return To Office
‘This is the beginning of us more clearly defining hybrid work for our company. We look forward to those near an office coming in at least three days a week as soon as you can arrange it,’ Dell Technologies Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Opperating Officer Jeff Clarke writes.
Remote Dell Technologies workers, you may no longer have a friend in Michael Dell.
Just eight months after CEO Dell wagged his finger at fellow executives who bemoaned remote workers sapping their productivity telling them, “You’re doing it wrong,” Dell Technologies is now ordering some workers back to the office at least three days per week, according to an internal memo CRN obtained.
In the memo, Jeff Clarke, the company’s vice chairman and co-chief operating officer, made clear that 100 percent remote work while living near a Dell Technologies office would no longer be permitted but also emphasized the company’s desire to be a flexible employer.
“As soon as possible, we’d like more people to work in a hybrid model,” said Clarke. “Those living within about an hour commute to a major Dell office should come onsite at least three days a week. We’re still flexible – work with your leader to determine schedules within this framework that work best for you and the business.”
“We know many of us have arranged our lives around remote work over the past three years. This is not a light switch transition. We understand it will take time to prepare and adjust to being in the office more regularly again. This is the beginning of us more clearly defining hybrid work for our company,” he continued. “We look forward to those near an office coming in at least three days a week as soon as you can arrange it.”
When contacted by CRN, Dell Technologies confirmed that it recently shared with its team that the company “will return to more flexible and hybrid work.”
“While several team members are coming to the office regularly, most remained fully remote,” the company said. “We are providing this guidance as we look to get more team members back to the office some of the time.”
In the return-to-office mandate, which a company spokesperson did not refute, Clarke wrote that as the pandemic has eased, Dell Technologies wants to see more faces in the office. He said workers can still make arrangements with managers and talk with their leaders about crafting solutions that work best.
Dell Changes Tune Around Remote Work
The latest news from Dell Technologies comes eight months after Michael Dell wrote that bringing workers back to headquarters will not solve the teamwork or culture-building challenges that some say plague the remote-work environment.
“Even several of my fellow tech industry CEOs have pushed to get their teams back into physical offices ‘to engage more fully’ or be a more visible presence,” Michael Dell said in a LinkedIn post last September. “If you are counting on forced hours spent in a traditional office to create collaboration and provide a feeling of belonging within your organization, you’re doing it wrong.”
To back up his statements promoting remote work, Dell Technologies at the time had also commissioned a peer-reviewed survey by the U.K. firm Vanson Bourne to carry out the study interviewing 10,500 “senior business and IT business leaders as well as knowledge workers, from small to large enterprises and across 14 industries, were interviewed across 40 locations.”
“Ultimately, we have committed to allow team members around the globe to choose the work style that best fits their lifestyle – whether that is remote or in an office or a blend of the two,” Michael Dell said. “Our business results show it’s working for us, and I believe this model will eventually be embraced as the future of work.”
According to Dell Technologies’ own survey, 80 percent of workers feel remote work will create a more inclusive work environment, while providing employees more time to work, achieve financial independence, care for loved ones, or pursue other interests.
“As a company we are committed to preserving the special culture we have built over the last 39 years, creating a strong sense of belonging and accelerating the speed and ease of learning,” Clarke said.
Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, a Dell global Titanium partner headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., praised Dell’s new hybrid back to work policy.
“I applaud Dell Technologies and any other company that stands up to help recreate the rich, vital and collaborative in-house environment that we have known for more than 100 years of business,” he said. “That being said I don’t believe that it will ever be back to what it was wth 100 percent of employees back to the office. But there is absolutely a lack of fruitful collaboration via phone and video.”
Venero said he has invited customers and vendor partners to Future Tech’s headquarters and has been overwhelmed by the response of people anxious to get back to face to face meetings.
“The message from customers and vendor partners every single time is that they miss the ability to sit down together to brainstorm, align and drive partnership in face to face meetings,” he said. “We have had dozens of customers and partners to our offices and they all are thrilled to get back to face to face meetings. There is no replacing the level of camaraderie, ingenuity and value by having team members together working on a new solution, an existing challenge and or even just day-to-day business operations.”
That said, one of the big lessons from the pandemic is the need for flexibility with an organization as it relates to work schedules, said Venero. What’s more, he said, hybrid office work has also led to the ability to get top talent outside of a company’s office locations.
Future Tech itself requires employees that live close to its Fort Lauderdale headquarters to come to the office full time. In addition, companies at Future Tech’s depot operations facility must be at the facility to do their job. All in all, about 100 of Future Tech’s 300 employees must be in the office or at the depot facility.
Future Tech is in the midst of a deep dive analysis focusing on the P&L (profit and loss) impact of the pre-pandemic work environment, the pandemic work environment and the post-pandemic work environment.
“We are getting into the nanoparticles of what the trend has been and where it has positively and negatively impacted our P&L,” said Venero. “I’m not talking about real estate costs of building and rent and all of the facilities cost. I’m talking about productivity, ingenuity and collaboration.”
Regardless of the hybrid work flexibility, Future Tech is making sure that it brings together employees quarterly so they “feel like they are part of the Future Tech family,” said Venero.
CRN’s Steven Burke contributed to this story
Read the full memo below from Dell Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke:
As we’ve demonstrated for more than a decade, we believe in a work experience that is flexible and hybrid - a healthy mix of onsite and remote work. Flexibility is, and will continue to be, a strong differentiator for us
You’ve told us through Tell Dell that hybrid is your preferred work style. As we’ve transitioned to post-pandemic living, many of you are coming to the office regularly, but most remain fully remote. And several of you are seeking clarity on when to come into the office so when you do, it’s a more energizing experience.
Returning to flexible and hybrid work
As soon as possible, we’d like more people to work in a hybrid model.
Those living within about an hour commute to a major Dell office should come onsite at least three days a week. We’re still flexible - work with your leader to determine schedules within this framework that work best for you and the business. Your senior executives will share more about what this means for your organization in upcoming town halls, manager meetings and other touchpoints.
We recognize not everyone can come to a Dell office. Winning together is core to our culture, no matter where you sit.
We’ll continue to provide opportunities for everyone to achieve great success and feel a sense of belonging and community. We’ll use our improved collaboration technology to stay connected and productive as a global team, taking forward all we’ve learned in our 12-plus years - and especially the last three - as a flexible and hybrid workplace. As a company, we are committed to preserving the special culture we have built over the last 39 years, creating a strong sense of belonging and accelerating the speed and ease of learning.
We know many of us have arranged our lives around remote work over the past three years. This is not a light switch transition; we understand it will take time to prepare and adjust to being in the office more regularly again. This is the beginning of us more clearly defining hybrid work for our company. We look forward to those near an office coming in at least three days a week as soon as you can arrange it.
For more information on this guidance, working onsite, finding the location nearest you and more, please visit the Hybrid Work site on Inside Dell Technologies. And check back often - we’ll make updates as things evolve. The site has a lot of helpful information, but we don’t have all the answers today. We’ll work through any bumps we encounter on this journey as we always do - together.
P.S. We’ve received some questions about travel. For now, our pause on non-business-critical travel remains as we manage costs in this uncertain economy.