June 3, 2006
HP CUTS BACK ON TELECOMMUTING
SOME KEY WORKERS WILL HAVE TO COME TO OFFICE OR FIND NEW JOBS
By Nicole C. Wong
San Jose Mercury News
Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley company known for pioneering flexible work arrangements four decades ago, is canceling telecommuting for a key division of the company.
While other companies nationwide are pushing more employees to work from home to cut office costs, HP believes bringing its information-technology employees together in the office will make them swifter and smarter.
The decision shocked HP employees and surprised human resource management experts, who believe telecommuting is still a growing trend. “It’s usually cheaper to have people operating in their own space than in your own. There’s obviously something not going right or not to their liking for them to want to regroup or to change,” said Manny Avramidis, senior vice president for global human resources for the American Management Association.
The architect of the HP division’s change, Randy Mott, is regarded by Wall Street as a mastermind of operational efficiency based on his days as chief information officer at Wal-Mart Stores and Dell. Since joining HP as CIO in July, Mott’s philosophy on building a strong IT workforce starkly contrasts with that of competitors, who encourage telecommuting to retain skilled workers who desire better work/life balance.
Mott said by bringing IT employees together to work as teams in offices, the less-experienced employees who aren’t performing well — which there are “a lot of” — can learn how to work more effectively.
In an office, “you’re able to put teams together that can learn very aggressively and rapidly from each other,” he said.
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