Dell Cracks Down on Remote Workers (Again) with Red Flag System

Dell staff are being color-coded for office attendance, with remote workers receiving a 'red flag' on their record.

For Dell employees, the back to office tussle continues, as new reports have emerged that the company is taking thorough steps to track staff attendance with a color-coding system.

Sources close to Dell have revealed that the company is now tracking badge use, to manage in-office activity, a practice which has given rise to ‘coffee badging‘, as employees try to circumvent needing to be at their desks most of the week.

It’s the latest in a long line of ‘incentives’ that Dell has tried to get staff back to the office, including reducing the likeliness for remote staff to get a  promotion.

Dell Keeping Tabs on Employees

As reported by The Register, Dell is stepping up its drive to get staff out of their homes and back into the office, in the latest in a long line of attempts to crack down on remote workers.

The latest scheme, according to an insider, is a color coding system which gives employees one of four statuses against their HR record, based on their office attendance. A blue flag means a “consistent onsite presence”, green is “regular onsite presence”, yellow means “some onsite presence”, and red spells “limited onsite presence.”

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Presence is to be recorded through use of badge tracking, which will show who has entered the office, and when. It’s the same tactic that Elon Musk used at Tesla in 2022, when the CEO demanded that employees were in the office a minimum of 40 hours a week, or else they’d be fired.

While there’s no sign that Dell will be quite as authoritarian as Musk when it comes to tracking office presence, the new system does imply that the company is losing patience with those who aren’t traveling to the office, and persistent offenders could be slapped with a red flag against their personal record.

Dell’s Return to Office Fight

The move shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone that has been paying attention to Dell’s one-track mind approach to getting employees back to the office at any cost.

Almost a year ago, it began with a mandate that employees who live within an hour of the office would have to make the trip in three times a week.

This was followed up in February of this year, with a new mandate that stated staff must attend the office at least 39 days a quarter, regardless of where they live.

Then a month later came the real kicker for remote employees. Anyone who wanted to progress their career at Dell would need to commit to hybrid working, as an internal memo outlined:

“For remote team members, it is important to understand the trade-offs: Career advancement, including applying to new roles in the company, will require a team member to reclassify as hybrid onsite.”

All this is a far cry from CEO Michael Dell’s thought piece on remote working in 2022, posted on LinkedIn, which is a treasure trove of plaudits about the benefits of remote working, praising it for creating a more inclusive work environment.

“But from my experience, 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.” Dell CEO, Michael Dell, 2022

Remote Work Isn’t Dead Yet

Despite Dell’s fierce fight to get staff back in the office, the remote work movement is far from over. There are numerous studies that have outlined the benefits of allowing staff to work outside the office, including our own Impact of Tech on the Workplace Report, where we surveyed business leaders and found that remote working organizations report higher levels of productivity.

Luckily, while there are organizations like Dell and Tesla out there that are fighting tooth and nail to get bums on office seats, there are plenty with more flexible working conditions.

Microsoft, AirBnB, Slack, Spotify and Dropbox are just some companies that allow for remote work, and every month we highlight the best remote job roles available. So, whether you’re an employee at Dell looking for an escape route, or simply someone that wants to ditch the commute, there are lots of options from more forward-thinking companies.

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Written by:
Jack is the Deputy Editor for He has over 15 years experience in publishing, having covered both consumer and business technology extensively, including both in print and online. Jack has also led on investigations on topical tech issues, from privacy to price gouging. He has a strong background in research-based content, working with organisations globally, and has also been a member of government advisory committees on tech matters.
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