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CAHRS Partner IBM Discusses the Change in Telework Arrangements

National Public Radio talked with Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies partner member Diane Gherson, senior vice president of human resources for IBM about the change in telework in "Some Employers are Rethinking Telework, Citing a Need for Better Collaboration."

In the 1970s, IBM was one of the pioneers of telework, and over time, 20 percent of its employees worked remotely. Last year, it decided to recall some remote-work employees, a move that seemed to go against decades of policies aimed at supporting telework.

Gherson explains that the shift in work policy affects about 2 percent of its 380,000 workers, she says, and reflects changing workplace demands.

Younger millennial-generation employees say they want to work with and learn from their older peers, and IBM's own employee surveys showed those who worked remotely were less engaged or motivated.

But most importantly, Gherson says, there's been a shift in how work itself gets done: "This is a real tidal wave, and that is the need for continuous innovation."

Gherson says customers expect speedy fixes and updates. To achieve that, software developers started working together in rooms without walls, so they could talk through changes in real time.

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