Remote Locations Difficult To Manage

Network World reports on the difficulties faced by offsite workers and their managers.

IBM’s efforts to create a flexible work environment have been so successful that 40% of its 330,000 employees work from home, on the road, or at a client location on any given day. But a few years ago, the company realized that as its staff became more distributed, employee morale was weakening.
In the region Dan Pelino inherited in 2002, barely half of IBM workers surveyed by the company said they thought morale was good. Employees felt they lacked a strong connection to their peers, they were missing out on mentoring relationships, and institutional knowledge wasn’t being passed down within the company, says Pelino, who today is general manager of IBM’s global healthcare and life sciences business. Internally, employees joked that “IBM” stood for “I’m by myself,” he recalls.
The predicament IBM faced is common among companies that strive to provide nontraditional work arrangements. How do you offer flexibility without sacrificing corporate culture?

The article goes on to offer some potential team-building solutions, but I’m wondering if you have any direct insight into this issue that you’d care to share.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Typing this from a cafe in San Francisco on a Friday…
    The idea is flexibility and balance. Not all one or the other. I wfh one day a week but would like to wfh two days a week. That would be perfect.

  2. Funny, International Business 101 has taught for years and years that the more remote a site and the more disparate the local culture is from the worker’s norm, the more essential it is that communications between units be amped up. Not only that, if it cannot be accomplished asynchronously, then you should do a good part of that communications in their time frame, not just the HQs.