Flexibility is the key, at both ends of the deal.
There are some very good points made here about the merits and disadvantages of home-working. I agree with those who say that a mix is good, and what that mix looks like depends on your role/project etc.
I have no doubt that IBM are doing this hamfistedly, and that it will have all sorts of unintended consequences, the vast majority of which will be negative for staff and negative for the organisation, but..
I work for a company that is very similar to IBM in a lot of ways. As such, I suspect they suffer from many of the problems I experience with remote workers. While some people do take a flexible and responsible attitude to remote working, far far more of them do not. The proportion who won't travel - point blank refuse - even by exception is breathtaking, and while "remote working" they take hours out of the day to do sh1t that has nothing to do with work - and you never get the time back from them. And unless you take the time to keep a journal of their pi$$-taking and episodes of intransigence, there's nothing you can do.
Meanwhile those of us who have to look the customer in the eye are spending 4 nights a week in a fscking hotel, and taking flights on Monday and Friday.
These people have no regard for the value in getting the design team together face to face for a project kick off or a monthly review. Never met the team member is who is dealing with the network design that they're so heavily dependent on, or the security and monitoring systems they must integrate with. You end up with 10 designs each containing unresolved assumptions and dependencies that relate to the other 9 designs because the idiots haven't talked to each other.
And then there are the conference calls. Have you ever had one of those, which is for a structured discussion, where 45 minutes in the hour is dead air? "Bob, you're on mute. Bob? BOB? Is anyone in the same office as Bob?" "Sorry about that, I was talking away on mu... oh hold on, a man's at the front door to deliver a washing machine. I'll just let him in and show him where I need it plumbing in, and make him a cup of tea"
If those are the problems IBM experience with remote workers, I don't blame them for their new initiative. I'd like to see my lot follow suit.
Related: In common with IBM, we are awash with coffin-dodgers. And I don't mean those wise old owls who know where the bodies are buried, and can knock up a Cobol patch in their sleep. I mean people - probably in the business prevention department - who have been in place for the last 20+ years, surviving cull after cull, and re-org after re-org without ever adding a single bit of value to the place. Big old companies have lots of places to hide, and that is the only trick in these geezers' toolbags.
So if IBM are doing this as a way of culling thousands of people who remember when all this was valves (but never knew what a valve was and never cared to ask) then I hope my company does the same thing. The diamonds in the rough can always be spared by exception.
As for making allowances for people with kids... well sorry but, usually, its those of us without that get the sh1tty end of the stick, sooo.... change is as good as a rest, eh?