Dell’s New Return to Office Mandate Intended to “Thin the Herd”

Flying in the face of clear data, Dell has announced a new return to office policy for staff regardless of where they live.

Dell is the latest big tech firm to crack the return to office whip this year and end fully remote working, telling staff designated as “hybrid” workers to start attending the company’s physical workplaces approximately three days a week.

We say “approximately” because Dell’s return to office mandate actually specifies in-office attendance of 39 days per quarter, a calculation the computing giant likely hopes will encourage you to believe it’s continuing to offer a “flexible approach.”

However, according to the leaked company memo revealing the new policy, it’s actually a means of “thinning the herd” when it comes to Dell’s remote and hybrid workers, following last year’s more limited Dell return to office call, which was aimed solely at employees working within an hour’s commute of an office.

Dell Staff Who Don’t Return to Office Expected to Suffer

The leaked internal memo was shared with El Reg, with the Dell whistleblower saying that employees who failed to accept the new policy would instead be placed on a “career limiting” fully remote contract. The new mandate apparently applies no matter you live, while last year’s call was exclusive to those with an easily commutable distance.

“Folks who live a few hours away from the office will have to go into an office and if they do not, they have to sign up to a remote contract with the tacit understanding that being remote is career limiting,” the source told the site.

At the same time, the anonymous Dell staffer suggested that the company isn’t expected to widely enforce the new policy, due to the limitations of some of its new physical workspaces.

“Offices are too small and the new locations are serviced offices with no way of tracking employees coming and going because they are not locations where Dell badges work,” the corporate informer added.

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Following publication of the story, Dell confirmed its new return to office policy to the technology website and said it made the decision because it “believe[s] in-person connections paired with a flexible approach are critical to drive innovation and value differentiation.”

Dell Latest Tech Titan to Change Remote Working Tune

While it’s Dell under the gun this week for it’s remote working U-turn, the PC colossus is hardly alone in tightening up its WFH policies this year.

In 2024 to date, IBM, Bank of America and (most hilariously) WebMD owner Internet Brands have all sounded the return to office klaxon. Go back to late last year and the likes of Amazon, Infosys and Roblox have all looked to re-emphasize the value of a good water cooler bonding.

Perhaps most infamously, even the pandemic era home working deity Zoom has demanded a return to office.

In-office Working Doesn’t Make You More Productive

Most return to office proponents argue that a hybrid working model that combines some remote days with physical in-person attendance is the ideal mix for productivity and work/life balance.

However, we spoke to thousands of US business leaders for our inaugural Impact of Technology in the Workplace report and found the exact opposite: that 64% of organizations where fully remote working was offered reported high levels of productivity, compared to just 53% that operated hybrid models requiring staff to go in between two and four days a week.

You can learn more by downloading our full Impact of Tech report for free, but the data is clear despite more companies ending fully remote work than ever before.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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