back to article Staff say Dell's return to office mandate is a stealth layoff, especially for women

Dell's "return to office" mandate has left employees confused about which offices they can use and the future of their jobs – and concerned the initiative is a stealth layoff program that will disproportionately harm women at the IT giant. As El Reg broke this month, Dell told employees they each needed to choose between …

  1. steviebuk Silver badge

    Wouldn't suprise me

    Companies will try anything they can to convince people to just quit instead so then they don't have to pay them any redundancy pay.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't suprise me

      That's why grown up countries have "constructive dismissal" on the books

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wouldn't suprise me

        There sounds like some direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of an employee’s sex too…. as covered in Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Mandatory Training.

        1. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

          Re: Wouldn't suprise me

          I fail to see how a call back to work is "sexually discriminatory." As far as I'm concerned, all employees should be treated EQUALLY, and they are being treated equally. Not nicely, but equally.

          1. Lyndication

            Re: Wouldn't suprise me

            It isn't equal if it's something that affects one group much more than others. As noted, it's a 29 : 2 ratio against women per a quote in the article.

            If one were to institute a policy forcing work on Christmas Day, there would be some demographics who really wouldn't be bothered, and some who would feel incredibly affected by it and angry as a result.

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't suprise me

        In the UK that I think kicks in after 2 years of working and still you need to find a solicitor which may cost you like 5 grand to guide you through, you need to keep documenting everything and so on.

        What I am trying to say, it is not easy, costs time and money and outcome is uncertain. If you get settlement, it's unlikely going to be something to write home about and if the case goes to tribunal, bear in mind it is publicly available and if your future employer Googles your name, they may see you as a "troublemaker" and simply not offer you the job.

        Depending on what you do and how you value your time, considering alternative cost, this may be something that sounds good on paper, but really not worth the effort.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wouldn't suprise me

          As cynical as this sounds, it's probably accurate. At one point in my career I witnessed a crystal-clear, textbook FMLA violation specifically targeting one employee. They did consult a lawyer, who told them that while it was clearly a violation, it would be so much of a pain to try to prove in court that it probably wasn't worth pursuing. (I did tell them I'd be happy to serve as a witness for the prosecution.)

          Just because something is illegal, doesn't mean companies don't do it and publicly get away with it.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Wouldn't suprise me

            I supported someone I know through the process and it took about 6 months and cost a lot of time, stress and money. The support from CAB and the union was useless.

            The person wouldn't be able to do much without a solicitor - also add time to find competent one, go to meetings, each time present the issue adding more stress.

            It's not like you can say that employer done something wrong and they'll take care of it - you need evidence, details, dates, statements. Then you may be confronted with employer who misrepresent things, lies, gaslights, minimises etc. and you have to give such employer the opportunity to make it right before you go further.

            In this case employer promised to do something about the issue several times, but each time made it worse.

            You also need to get solicitor before you quit, so they can guide you what to do and how to do it properly.

            Then you can pray the collected evidence and smarts of the solicitor will compel the rogue employer to settle rather than to go to tribunal.

            Friend got settlement, but ultimately said they wouldn't do it again. They would rather just quit and find a new job than waste time and energy on this.

            Maybe it makes sense if your job gets you strong six or more figures... and you have some money behind the sofa for events like this and PA to deal with it.

            1. Lyndication

              Re: Wouldn't suprise me

              Having supported my partner through similar during a period of very personal, very targeted discrimination, we found that you can only really even build a case in the UK by sending the right responses with the right verbiage that then officially begins the formal process. Without help from a very well-informed friend, they would've been able to ride out a "timer" on starting the case.

              Even then, it only escalated things up to a CEO level, who didn't care, and left her hanging with either going back to work or taking it to court.

        2. Azamino

          Re: Wouldn't suprise me

          My experience was a little different to that described above. My situation came about at the end of dotcom, a large multinational bought out our tiny unit and I was surplus to requirements. I was left more than a little bit miffed by their intention to enforce non-compete clauses in my contract while ignoring other clauses which benefitted me.

          I saw a specialist lawyer for 30 minutes (which was free) and it then briefly threatened to get serious before the firm agreed to honour my contract and pay the costs I had incurred. Far from being marked out as a trouble maker it placed a marker against my name as someone who could be trusted to stand-up for the firm, customer or team.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: Wouldn't suprise me

            Constructive dismissal is much more complex than that. If the case goes to Employment Tribunal when you fail to settle, then it becomes public for everyone to see.

            If you are bored - makes an entertaining read https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions

            I used to read them when commuting.

        3. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Wouldn't suprise me

          Granted it might be true but with the "don't rock the boat" attitude is why they continue to get away with it and why the Horizon scandal happened.

        4. Gordon 10

          Re: Wouldn't suprise me

          I think you're a little too negative on this one - at least as far as UK law goes.

          The announcement (if reported accurately) is a blanket policy and open to huge challenges, and potential joint actions by multiple 10's of employee's.

          There is zero chance Dell will try to blanket enforce this in the UK.

          Expect them to quietly back out and say it was US only.

          But don't be surprised to hear of huge payouts by Compromise agreements to keep everything on the down-low.

    2. Joe Gurman

      Re: Wouldn't suprise me

      Just so you know.... there's no such thing as redundancy pay in the US.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't suprise me

        "Just so you know.... there's no such thing as redundancy pay in the US."

        It's not an automatic and universal thing, but there are regulations that apply to large employers. Elon regularly runs into this sort of thing and a little bit of searching will show a few handfuls of employee/employer lawsuits. You would certainly never want to agree to binding arbitration at a Musky company. Large companies that reduce their workforce by a certain percentage can be liable to pay those people for a period of time. The footnotes to that would be pages long.

        What can also happen in the US is a fine for sacking somebody without due course. It can be very expensive to fire an employee for one infraction of the rules or even several if they aren't given a warning first.

    3. Dimmer Bronze badge

      Re: Wouldn't suprise me

      Cat

      Bag

      Good luck putting it back in.

      WFH :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Our first source cited personal experience of the return-to-office order’s impact and told us two men were impacted, compared to 29 women

    So what she's saying is, her team is already overwhelmingly sexist in favor of females, and therefore any changes disproportionately affects females, and somehow that makes those changes sexist against females?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "sexist in favor of females"

      "two men were impacted, compared to 29 women"

      Dell is so sexist in favor of women that the majority of the cited group affected by RTO were, er, women. Think you've misunderstood bigly.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "sexist in favor of females"

        I don't know if you know this but Dell has a lot more than 31 employees.

        1. aerogems Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: "sexist in favor of females"

          First rule of holes: if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "sexist in favor of females"

            I didn't find myself in a hole, I found myself faced with people who can't comprehend that the fact she's referencing a total of 31 people means she either cherry-picked it or is referring to only her team.

            In the first case it's obviously misleading FUD that I doubt the reg would have printed, and in the second case it says that only 2 people in a team of 31 are male.

            In either case it doesn't show any sexism against women.

            1. aerogems Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: "sexist in favor of females"

              That's not Superman you see flying way up high in the sky, it's the point you continue to miss.

            2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: "sexist in favor of females"

              in the second case it says that only 2 people in a team of 31 are male.

              Erm, no. It says that only 2 out of 31 affected people in the team are male and absolutely nothing about how many unaffected people there are.

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                Erm, no. It says that only 2 out of 31 affected people in the team are male and absolutely nothing about how many unaffected people there are.

                There are lies, damn lies and statistics. But also one of the reasons I'm glad to have retired(ish) and no longer have to worry about employment policies. So stuff like this where it might be an accidental affect, or intentional. Either way, someone will probably sue and dealing with that stuff is a PITA. Trying to come up with policies that are purely meritocratic can also be a major pain. Homeworking is always something I've encouraged because it saves money, and telecoms is about enabling that kind of efficiency. I don't really care where an employee works, when they work or how they work as long as the work they're hired for gets done.

                It's still bizarre to me that employers still insist on bums on seats, or not-seats if they've decided 'standing desks' are the next big thing. Or just have fewer seats than staff. If someone isn't allocated a desk, then they obviously don't need to be in an office.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                  Hey, Eddie Lee. You for got to ☑ the "Post anonymously?" check box this time.

                2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                  Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                  There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

                  Everybody should read "How to Lie with Statistics". In particular it should be a central part of school maths teaching. Very few people need to know the equation of a circle in Cartesian coordinates but everybody needs to be able to spot when graphs are trying to mislead them.

                  1. fromxyzzy

                    Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                    It's always been a bit shocking to me when I remember that schools often require students to take a class in trigonometry, but statistics is optional.

                    Best class I took in high school, use it every day.

                3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                  "I don't really care where an employee works, when they work or how they work as long as the work they're hired for gets done."

                  Some employers sort of miss that point even though the execs might have held weeks of meetings to thrash out how many people they need on something when they've estimated the amount of work needing doing and how fast an average person can be expected to do it. There's no point in getting mad at people if they do it in better time. Some people are better than others at finding the best way to get a job done. I bill by the job, not the hour as doing time billing means I penalize myself for being efficient. It also means that over time as I get more experience, I make less than a noob just figuring things out.

              2. jsmith234546278

                Re: "sexist in favor of females"

                Everyone who is currently working remotely is affected by this. Hope that helps you understand your biases.

          2. fromxyzzy

            Re: "sexist in favor of females"

            "Dig up, stupid!"

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      What's probably more likely is that the majority of those that need to work remotely have child-based commitments which are disproportionately women by and large (school runs, entertaining them while school is out etc) rather than anything related to workforce representation, although I don't know what the situation is in Dell in the affected departments.

      > "This new policy on its face appears to be anti-remote, but in practice will be anti-woman," our first source said. "Anti-woman for career advancement. Anti-woman for bonus calculations next year."

      This seems a bit of a stretch. They are trying to imply the claim that Dell are trying to get rid of women disproportionately, but it seems unlikely to me, and much more likely to be a side effect of what they doing, as wrong-headed as it is anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > women by and large (school runs, entertaining them while school is out etc)

        Sorry, how can you do that while you're working? Oh right, you can't. I'm also not sure what that has to do with being female, to be honest, other than... you know... sexism (of the kind that ensures women get sole custody in the vast majority of divorces, for example).

        1. cornetman Silver badge

          The main issue for people who have child care responsibilities is that they tend to work flexibly. We have quite a few parents where I work and their working remotely also affords them some flexible working time arrangements. So they duck out and pick up the kids from school but then work later into the evening. It wouldn't really suit me but for them it means that they can work when they might otherwise be not able to.

          Bit difficult to do that when you have to be in an office location that you must commute to.

          But it's also a fact that more women than men take on that responsibility. Actually that's not true with my co-workers that are mostly men, but anecdotally, it seems that this is still the case in many instances.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Ah yes, they work later into the evening, while "entertaining" their kids.

            I too have flexible working arrangements: occasionally I take a lunch and go do something with my family. Heck, sometimes I even head out for a few hours to take them to the doctor, since I'm the only one who drives. Working in an office (how do you do that without commuting?) doesn't prevent that.

            What you're *actually* saying is that people who work remotely can slack off and work several hours less than agreed upon without their superiors being any the wiser, and they can't do that as easily if they're in an office. Which is true, but also cause for termination.

            I'm frankly not sure why this is even relevant. The article doesn't say "2 men would have to seek alternate child care arrangements". It says 2 men would be impacted. Every person - man or woman - who is currently working remotely is impacted by this change. So... you keep going off on your irrelevant tangents. Have fun.

            1. cornetman Silver badge

              I don't really understand the snark, although this is El Reg, so I guess I should expect it.

              My coworkers are very hard working and dedicated individuals. Working in the evening means exactly that: *working*.

              I cannot speak for whatever occurs at your place of employment though. Perhaps that is not the case there.

              All I know is that proper, grown up adults can be trusted to work when they say they are. If you work with children, I cannot help that.

            2. parlei

              This could e.g. be small children. My (insane) hybrid schedule was for about one year this:

              0400-0430: breakfast., shower

              0430-0600: work at home

              0600-0700: get two children out of bed and prepped for daycare, deliver said offspring to daycare

              0700-0830: commute

              0830-1690: work (on prem)

              1600-1700: commute, pick up children

              1700-1900: feed and "entertain" children

              1900-1930 (ha): bedtime

              1930-2200: work (remote)

              (the other parent did a weekly commute, so I was a "semi-single" parent during this period)

              For some inexplicable reason I once woke up just as my car was starting to leave the road during this period.

              From my employers standpoint there was no problem, I most certainly did what was needed.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                A relatively sane schedule…

                The junior school my children went to didn’t offer extended schooldays/day care, so you had to deposit them not before 8am and pick them up at 3:30pm. Obviously, all the various after school clubs/activites tended to run 4pm to 5 pm..

                So quite often I would be working from the swimming pool/sports centre viewing gallery, only possible due to mobile phone/data and laptop.

                The change to secondary school were they caught the bus at 7:45am from the village and didn’t return till 4:45pm was a relief.

                That 22:00 shutoff also seems a little ambitious, often I found it was more like 2am..

                1. parlei

                  2 am would have been problematic considering I wake up no later than 4 am. Not to say it never happened.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Not slack OFF … but work flexibly and smart so all of your work gets done and Work Life Balance scores highly - it’s supposed to be valued

              1. ChoHag Silver badge
                Coat

                If slack was off we could all get more work done.

            4. ChoHag Silver badge

              > What you're *actually* saying is that people who work remotely can slack off and work several hours less than agreed upon without their superiors being any the wiser

              It's more the case that you don't have to pad the 2 hours of actual work with 6 hours of reading reddit until your chair is warm enough. You can use those 6 hours productively *with* the explicit or tacit agreement of your mangler, who likely has kids of his own (eg. mine does). Chances are you'll even be able to spend some of them working for your employer when you find you have no other errands because you've actually had the opportunity to do them instead of failing to squeeze an entire day of tasks into the half an hour you get to yourself at home in the evening. End result: your stuff gets done, your employer gets more of your time, you have more of your own time and your kids get to see your face occasionally.

              RTO mandates come from the sort of moron who believes 8 hours spent in an office is 8 hours of productivity even as they fail to achieve that themselves.

              1. parlei

                They just want to see a paddock full of prime cattle, I mean productive workers

                1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  AKA cow-orkers.

            5. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              What you're *actually* saying is that people who work remotely can slack off and work several hours less than agreed upon without their superiors being any the wiser ...

              If it affects the amount or quality of their work then their supervisors should know. And if it doesn't affect either of these things it means that flexibility is keeping god employees on board, which is a good thing.

            6. Tom 38

              What you're *actually* saying is that people who work remotely can slack off and work several hours less than agreed upon without their superiors being any the wiser

              He's an AC, but we know his job title is middle management of some sort. Let me tell you, I can 100% slack off in the office, and presenteeism is not how you measure performance.

              I'm an EM myself, if someone on my team is slacking off and not doing their work, I'll know whether they are slacking off - it doesn't matter if they slack off by the coffee machine or take the kids to the park. On the other hand, if they do all their work and are generally contactable for queries, I don't care when they do their work.

              1. tiggity Silver badge

                My in office days are far less productive than WFH days as extra interruptions (i.e. outside the scheduled meetings). When WFH I don't get someone randomly coming up and chatting to me when I'm in the middle of a really complex problem (and where it takes a good 15 minutes or so to get fully back in the zone after the (99% of the time irrelevant) interruption). Chatting would be fine - at the appropriate time, e.g. at a "dev dead time", like now when I'm waiting for a big compile, test suite, deploy sequence to run before I can do "manual tests" of my current changeset. Sadly, in the office chats are usually at the wrong time.

            7. ariels-again

              Please don't tell my boss

              Ouch, you just discovered my secret! When I work from home, I secretly go to school to fetch my kid over lunchtime. I also pretend to send PRs to my colleagues before 0800, put a deepfake avatar of myself in all the night-time VCs with users and staff in remote locations, and do some design work over the weekend.

              But you saw right through my machinations. Damn the Internet for having such smart people!

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "It wouldn't really suit me but for them it means that they can work when they might otherwise be not able to."

            Just having a professional job comes with some expense. Commuting, wardrobe, etc. If childcare has to be tacked on, it might not be financially worthwhile for a parent to work at all. I think many parents don't run those numbers to see if the difference is all down to a take away coffee 5 mornings a week.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          "Sorry, how can you do that while you're working?"

          Mostly remote-working parent here.

          I am required to do my 8.25 hours a day in any convenient timeslot. In practice that means that a lot of those hours are between 9-5 to be able to have meetings with other people. But also in practice it means that I can do most or all of my work between 8-6 and still have time when if necessary I can drop off / pick up kids and do some errands while shops/offices are actually open

          Remote work would lose much of it's appeal if I *had* to be at my desk during fixed and inflexible hours

          1. jsmith234546278

            A requirement to attend the office 3 days a week is not a requirement to adhere to any particular schedule. Your argument is completely and wholly invalid.

        3. Annihilator

          So, consider school starts at 08:45 and finishes about 16:00. I can do drop off and be back at my remote desk way before 09:00. I can't do that if I'm being forced back to an office. Similarly pickup - I can pick them up and be back at my desk before anyone would ever notice, and they can then take care of themselves in the house while I'm there - they're broadly self-sufficient. 3 times out of 5, they'd be in some sort of after-school club or activity anyway, so pickup is closer to 17:00. But again, I can't do that if I have to leave an office and commute an hour to get to the school.

          So yes, it sadly disproportionately affects women more than men, as currently, the societal "norm" is that women are usually the primary care-givers and men are usually the higher earners, therefore the ones least likely to give up a job when pushed into this scenario. The wage gap for *the same roles* is currently around 10%, and has been for a while. There are a number of reasons for this, one of the biggest being maternity vs paternity disparity, pushing women out of work for 6-12 months when having a child. Biomechanics also mean this is a more likely outcome.

          Flexible working, remote working etc has been one of the biggest levers to level the playing field across the gender divide. While this situation exists, policies such as this one will disproportionately affect women.

          1. jsmith234546278

            > I can't do that if I'm being forced back to an office.

            Why not? Because your manager would see? That's literally the only reason.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              >Why not?

              The hour commute?

              I went from being the parent who left the house at 5am Monday morning (to catch a red eye) typically returning 6pm Friday, to (mostly) working from home, sharing school runs with (working) partner, in-laws, neighbours etc. to fit around those days I needed to be in “the office” (*)

              The experience massively improved my management and team leadership skills, as I gained first hand experience of the change in priorities and mindset. Not saying it wasn’t without some pain and mental strife as I balanced the need to deliver work to a deadline and still be at the school gate on time…

              The only rules I give my team is they need to be able to answer the phone during normal office hours and be able to attend an “office” (*2) the next business day, unless they have booked time off.

              (*) office in this instance was not a fixed geographic location, but always a circa 1~2 hour commute.

              (*2) a non-home location which might be an office or a hotel/service station for a face-to-face meeting.

            2. Richard 12 Silver badge
              WTF?

              How long is your commute, Mr Smith?

              The school/nursery is a 10 minute round trip from my home office.

              When I worked in an office, my commute was a 3 hour round trip.

              In most jurisdictions (even in the US) the law requires that employees have occasional 20 minute breaks. (Details vary)

              In which of the above situations is that legally-mandated break sufficient to collect children, and which is it only long enough for a coffee (or smoke)?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: How long is your commute, Mr Smith?

                The US as a whole doesn't require any breaks.

                Less than half of states require a single lunch break, typically half an hour, sometimes 20 minutes. Only 7 states require breaks other than lunch. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/meal-breaks

                And of course there are no requirements for holiday or vacation time off, paid or unpaid.

                It's not a great place to work if you're not in a position to force employers to offer those. Fortunately, unions are making a comeback.

            3. Annihilator

              Nope, my manager and my visibility have nothing to do with it. It's the *commute* as I've already explained.

              If I'm working at home, I can drop my kids off at school and be at my desk before 9. If I'm forced to an office, I'd be there by 10am.

              If I'm working at home, I can pick my kids up at 4 (but usually 5 due to after-school activities like tennis etc) and be missing from my desk for 15 minutes. If I'm in an office, I'd need to leave at 3pm to achieve that.

              PS - I love that you've created this account fully to make this argument.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Will be enough for. Sex Discrimination Case to be raised.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "What's probably more likely is that the majority of those that need to work remotely have child-based commitments which are disproportionately women by and large"

        If Dell had previously accommodated that really well, they would have attracted many more women to those posts since there's still a handful that aren't all that keen on handing off their kids to daycare and who knows what sort of influences. As Jellied pointed out, if the work is getting done, why not. It should make no difference if the employee is putting the time in on a different schedule so they can look after their family. A WFH arrangement also means that a parent doesn't have to call in when they need to remain home to look after a sick child.

    3. aerogems Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Someone's going to die a virgin, or at least have to pay for it.

      1. Ace2 Silver badge
        Pint

        Brutal. Accurate, but brutal.

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        It was his use of "females" that tipped you off wasn't it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: It was his use of "females" that tipped you off wasn't it?

          I check the genitals of everyone I interact with. Wouldn't want to accidentally respect a wrongun!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nope, got a kid and a wife, but thanks for the personal attack, it makes it really easy to tell when people have a peabrain

        1. aerogems Silver badge
          Trollface

          Mail order brides are still a thing, eh?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Nope, but thanks for continuing to show everyone how incapable you are of comprehending basic numbers like "31" and "133,000"

            1. aerogems Silver badge
              FAIL

              Just... whoosh. Go reread my comment about the first rule of holes and keep rereading it until the wisdom if it sinks in for you and your sock puppet account.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                re: keep rereading it until the wisdom if it sinks in

                Oh yeah, I idiotically assumed that the team was about 35 people when there was nothing in the article to indicate how big the team was. Don't I look like a complete wanker now?! Doh!

                1. Phlegm

                  Re: re: keep rereading it until the wisdom if it sinks in

                  You DO look like a wanker, but I am guessing this isn't an uncommon look for you.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: You DO look like a wanker

                    Of course the problem with trying to converse with someone who posts anonymously is that anyone can post anonymously....

                    ;-P

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "Mail order brides are still a thing, eh?"

            They are. There's also plenty of people looking to get out of their country that will "hook up" with the right person, marry them for a bit and then get a divorce once they've met the minimum time quota to remain as a citizen. That can be a bit of a let down if you get into one of those arrangements without knowing in advance.

        2. Casca Silver badge

          Poor wife then

        3. Lurko

          "Nope, got a kid and a wife, but thanks for the personal attack, it makes it really easy to tell when people have a peabrain"

          Go on then, if you really hold the views you've expressed, then re-post the stuff you've already put up with your real name against it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re: Go on then, if you really hold the views you've expressed

            Of course I hold the views I expressed. And I genuinely believe I am married to a woman.

    4. call-me-mark

      Feeeeeeemales

      Are you a Ferengi?

      1. Law

        Re: Feeeeeeemales

        Makes perfect sense... from his comments on wfh and work life balance he's following the sixth rule of acquisition too:

        "Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity"

        Or maybe rule 111: "Treat people in your debt like family… exploit them."

        1. jsmith234546278

          Re: Feeeeeeemales

          Or I just believe in working when I'm being paid to work

          1. JamesTGrant

            Re: Feeeeeeemales

            Depends what you are being paid for. My contract provides a weekly hour total, my business expects an amount of output and I try to ensure that output produces value that the company can get money from. If I have an ‘inspirational’ week and do something excellent I am able to relax the following week - give and take. I chat with my team for 15mins every day and have a 30min chat with my line manager every week or two - so there’s no way for me to unilaterally develop a high or low self opinion.

            A job is just people, find a group of people that are compassionate, intelligent and motivated and, chances are you’ll enjoy the job.

            If you’re inflexible and want people in a certain geographic location for a fixed period of time then chances are you’ll only employ people who accept those conditions - which some might find great. Others may not. A lot of the ‘Dell wtf’ is them making arbitrary changes to their working conditions in contradiction to previously vaunted terms.

    5. oikos

      "policy applied to all, women most affected" is a song as old as time itself.

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Career advancement

    Career advancement - what does that even mean today?

    worker> Hun! I got promoted to a senior developer position!!!

    worker's partner> Oh that's so great sweetie! Does it mean we'll finally go on holiday?

    worker> Uhmm... I don't know. I'll have a lot of more work. They took onboard a lot of fresh people and I am supposed to mentor them on top of the things I already do.

    worker's partner> But they got you a pay rise?

    worker> Uhmm... so I got extra ten grand, but you know after taxes that wouldn't be much so I decided to put this into my pension.

    worker's partner> Right. Can you say no? I mean at least we had more time for ourselves? You say you'll have to work more...

    worker> I don't know, there is talk about layoffs... I don't want to rock the boat.

    worker's partner> Just great. Oh I see a gray hair! Yup at least you look senior.

  4. aerogems Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Sueball Time

    This is why the US needs more unions, or at least stronger labor regulations. This sort of shit should not be legal. At the barest minimum, if you're going to mandate staff work from an office, you should be required to make sure each and every employee has their own dedicated desk. None of this hotdesking bullshit, or other things that I swear are going to cause an American spinoff of the French Revolution targeting corporate royalty if they keep pushing like this.

    Once upon a time in this country, employers treated employees with respect. Loyalty was rewarded with things like a pension and the fabled gold watch when you retire. Now, the only real way you ever get a raise of any significance is by moving to another company, and all that institutional knowledge goes with you. So, companies are slowly hollowed out and forget how to do a lot of things. The new company also tends to have to eat about half a year's salary on new hires before they're up to speed and actually being productive enough to justify their position.

    Someone, or multiple someones, at Dell need to launch a sueball. If they can to discovery, I'm betting there are plenty of very interesting emails in top exec inboxes. Along the lines of IBM's "dinobabies" emails. I'd also try filing complaints with the NLRB and EEOC on the grounds that 1) they're attempting to alter the terms and conditions of employment -- I've never seen an employment contract that explicitly states where the work needs to be done -- and 2) the idea that this will disproportionately affect women. Might be an uphill battle to get either agency to take the case, but seems worth a try. Might also lump in the SEC and DOL, saying this is an effort to end run the WARN Act, thus is a form of market manipulation.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Sueball Time

      "every employee has their own dedicated desk"

      Even in the before times there were companies hotdesking with < n desks. It was stupid then and it is stupid now.

      "companies are slowly hollowed out and forget how to do a lot of things"

      I'm not sure they care anymore. From previous experience the modern management culture seems to be to step on as many people as you can to get as high as you can before jumping ship. I worked for a now dead (not my fault) multi-national and they had a policy of rotating managers between the various parts of the business. They would be in position for 18-24 months before being promoted for a 'job well done' and moved somewhere else. It was pretty much a case of if no-one died on site and the building didn't burn down then they got the promotion. These managers had zero skin in the game.

      Everything is short term gain. The fact that in 5 years the company will have a major problem as the knowledge has walked out the door doesn't matter.

      "This is why the US needs more unions"

      You just need to look at the history of US heavy and car industry to see how this caused their downfall in the 70s and 80s. Same with similar industry in the UK. The union leaders thought they could blackmail the management and govt and other companies and countries snuck in and filled the void. Unions are in theory a good idea but it seems the leadership positions attract the most corrupt people.

      "I've never seen an employment contract that explicitly states where the work needs to be done"

      Dunno about the US but this is common in the UK.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Sueball Time

        "I've never seen an employment contract that explicitly states where the work needs to be done"

        Dunno about the US but this is common in the UK.

        Same here in the Netherlands and also true while I worked in Belgium.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Sueball Time

        "I've never seen an employment contract that explicitly states where the work needs to be done"

        There can be an assumption made if it isn't in a contract and an employee might not like the decision of the labor board/tribunal. If you expect that your job will be remote, in office or some ratio, you want to put that in your contract. Anything promised verbally is only as good as the paper it's written on, as the saying goes.

        If your job changes, you should get your contract amended to match the new circumstances. I review my Terms and Conditions at least once a year and my contracts annually as well. They are all living documents that change over time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sueball Time

      "This is why the US needs more unions, or at least stronger labor regulations."

      Good luck with that, as the orange stain steadily gains momentum for another four years of power.

      I wonder how many secret documents he'll take next time he leaves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sueball Time

        Not as many as the dementia patient did :)

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Sueball Time

          Ah, whataboutism at its finest. A couple of oh-so-subtle differences, however:

          The "dementia patient" didn't deny he had them, and quickly returned them when requested.

          The "orange stain" persistently denied he had them until the feds metaphorically kicked his doors in, persistently denied there were any more each time more were found, then switched to saying he was entitled to keep them because he used to be el Presidenté.

          See the differences? Too subtle for you?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sueball Time

            "The "dementia patient" didn't deny he had them, and quickly returned them when requested."

            Incorrect. He knew they were there as he told his ghostwriter and even showed him documents in 2017. 4 years before handing them over.

            You know its bad when CNN fact checks Biden.

            https://edition.cnn.com/2024/02/09/politics/fact-check-biden-makes-three-false-claims-about-his-handling-of-classified-information/index.html

        2. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Sueball Time

          Not as many as the dementia patient did :)

          That dementia patient is the orange paper hoarder, there are no other dementia patients here, except for the bloated beached whale's followers. See, I didn't need the coward badge.

        3. aerogems Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Sueball Time

          They already covered the dementia patient when they said "orange stain". Try to keep up.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Sueball Time

        "I wonder how many secret documents he'll take next time he leaves."

        Whose to say how many secret communications were hoovered up when that scary Clinton woman decided to run her own server to bypass official documentation rules?

        There hasn't been a marginally good contender for US President in ages. To bring the mood down, look at the non-mainstream US political parties. They are so far off the pitch that they're even well clear of the car park. The Republican and Democrat parties have stopped grooming the best of their lot to boost into the top jobs and just spend what little time they put into the job on campaigning for the next election, making sure they have a cushy job with a big company in the wings just in case and making sure their investments are all stitched up.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Sueball Time

      "This is why the US needs more unions, or at least stronger labor regulations. "

      I was in a union once and never again. They originated at a time when there were almost no labor laws protecting employees. Today, they are something of a love/hate relationship. GM isn't that pleased with the UAW in the US, but they also see the problem of dealing with each worker (they are employees of the union for practical purposes) individually. It's much easier to have a well defined contract that spells out details of the post and pay scales. There are unions now that represent the cleaning staff at hotels. I know everybody wants better wages and they aren't going to be able to go to school to learn computer programming, but it's a minimum skill job so it's not the sort of thing that should be expected to support a single parent household with 5 children.

      There are reams of labor regulations. Some are enforced and some aren't. Adding more isn't a good use of time. Along with personal finance and real world economics, the realities of the workplace should be taught in school.

  5. Androidal

    Tax incentives

    Dell, like other companies, has tax incentive agreements they have to live up to. One of parameters that is measured is how much "foot-traffic" they will generate for the local economies surrounding let's say the campus in Round Rock. Now that the pandemic is essentially over, local municipalities, governments want Dell and others to fulfill their obligations. Problem is, the world of work has changed. Some compromises are going to have to made in order to keep everyone happy. Hopefully, Dell will not shoot themselves, in the foot, so to speak, but that remain to be seen.

    1. spacecadet66

      Re: Tax incentives

      So Dell made a bad deal and is now offloading the consequences on its own employees and taxpayers in a certain part of Texas, got it. Well that's OK then. /s

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tax incentives

        But the thing is, companies violate these kinds of agreements all the time with little to no consequence. I’ve encountered this personally. Company acquires another company in another location. CEO of the acquired company becomes VP of the acquirer and convinces acquirer to move a piece of product development to his location and build a new office there, with tax sweeteners from the state government if the company has x number of employees there. 2 years later, company moves that piece of product development to India, lays everyone in that office off, including the VP, and closes the office, The state does…nothing.

        1. spacecadet66

          Re: Tax incentives

          For this reason, and for many similar reasons, every time I hear the words "public-private partnership" I know someone's about to get ripped off.

  6. Georgski

    What are they good at?

    Our org is not buying any more Dell as, on top of build quality declining, they aren't even getting the selling bit right? Often we have ordered laptops, had long waits, and then the arrived spec is different (eg wrong Windows licence). Sometimes the laptop immediately requires service repair.

    Can't think that this cackhanded approach to layoffs is going to turn them around.

    1. david bates

      Re: What are they good at?

      Im surprised to hear about the build quality.

      I've just replaced a Thinkpad which died in use, and then refused to post with a Vostro. The Vostro, despite being cheaper is far more robust and actually has a keyboard that works.

      Admittedly the Thinkpad did itself replace a Vostro that decided it didn't like chargers and throttled the chip in retaliation - a known issue and one I hope Dell have fixed. The original Vostro lasted at least twice as long as the Thinkpad though.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: What are they good at?

        My whinge is:

        Thinkpads use USB power sockets which tend to fail (2 dead out of 10 purchased in 2020), but have full sized lan ports.

        Vostro have traditional power connectors, but the foldout LAN port (2 broken out of 10 purchased 2021).

    2. usbac Silver badge

      Re: What are they good at?

      The company I work for stopped buying Dell about two years ago because of quality problems. We are now buying Lenovo, but are having a lot of quality problems with them too. Maybe everything is just crap now?

      I bought my wife a new Dell laptop a couple of years ago, and she has had a lot of problems with it. The webcam intermittently stops working, and it overheats badly. Dell support was useless. Her laptop runs Linux Mint, and they won't provide any support unless I put windows 10 back on it.

      My main laptop is an eight year old Dell Latitude, and it is solid as a rock.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What are they good at?

        It's certainly true that Lenovo Thinkpads are nothing like the old IBM ones. All my Lenovo Thinkpads have had overheating problems, for example.

        On the other hand, every single Dell machine — tower, desktop, laptop — I have used at work since the early 1990s has had at least one brutally stupid design flaw, ranging from the tower machine with a reset button right next to the floppy-drive eject button (yes, this was a while back) to the idiotic power-supply detection circuitry on their laptops which is horribly sensitive to any sort of power surge. Most recently the expanding laptop battery pack that pushes against the bottom of the touchpad, causing the latter to malfunction; that one's so common that one of my co-workers diagnosed it immediately and explained the fix (just shimming the battery pack; it's pretty obvious once you know that's the problem).

        My sympathies to Dell employees, but Dell machines are junk, as far as I'm concerned.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What are they good at?

          "On the other hand, every single Dell machine — tower, desktop, laptop — I have used at work since the early 1990s has had at least one brutally stupid design flaw,"

          It's not just desktops and laptops, they do similar shit with their servers, too. For example the PowerEdge T3x0 and T4x0 tower servers, all which have an internal cooling system which actively excludes expansion cards from airflow (there's an airflow baffle covering CPU(s) and RAM, together with one of two fans it cools processors, RAM, chipset and hard drives in the primary backplane; there is nothing for expansion cards or drives in the upper 5.25" slots, and the baffle shields those from getting any airflow).

          This mindful design has ben really great when one tries to use something else than the crap standard built-in chipset SATA fake RAID controller for storage. Pretty much all supported storage controllers for those servers run pretty much close to overheating all the time. And good luck trying to run another hot running card (like most server NICs) in those machines. We tried and most cards dropped out because of excessive card temperatures.

          The larger models (T6xx) have the same problem, but here there is at least an optional (and highly expensive) mid-plane fan module which brings airflow to expansion cards.

          The words I have for the imbecile who designed those servers isn't suitable for public use, but it's pretty clear they are completely incompetent in thermal design.

          Interestingly, none of this has been an issue with any of our HPE tower ProLiants.

          Dell being shit is nothing new, there's the old saying "Dell is business class, HP is enterprise grade" which has always been true, although both HP and the server/networking spin-off HPE have their own issues. Just getting hold of Dell spare parts (or even part numbers) has been a nightmare.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: What are they good at?

            I think a contributor to the problem with the PowerEdge T3x0 and T4x0 tower servers is that they are actually rack servers turned 90 degrees and put in a tower case.

            >spare parts…

            My gripe is that the part number isn’t always helpful, because it applies only to the specific version of the part installed in your system. With many systems, faults are found and parts are revised and thus given a new part number. If you look up the new part number you will often find the part numbers it supercedes, however it is rare to look up your part number and get the part number of the part that supercedes it. This problem I’ve had with ibm/lenovo, dell & hp.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What are they good at?

      4.5 year old Dell Precision 5530 can't be used with the lid down which is how I used it docked, turns out it's slowly cooked the keyboard and now certain keys don't register. The HDMI connector slightly loose and the display can flicker off and shortly return, possibly also due to thermal issues (as I use it docked and leave everything connected, it's hardly due to wear). The next problem will probably be a bulging battery.

      It's a crock of soulless landfill, but nobody ever got fired for buying Dell and Microsoft.

      1. VicMortimer Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: What are they good at?

        That's because you should NEVER use ANY laptop with the lid closed.

        It doesn't matter that it (sort of) works that way for a while, you're causing thermal damage to ANY of them long term.

        Don't do that. Don't ever do that. If you don't want to use a laptop properly, get a desktop.

        I mostly deal with Macs, and I tell users exactly the same thing, you're going to destroy your computer even though Apple says it's fine. It just won't usually cause a problem until the warranty expires, at which point the manufacturer won't care.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

    Picard hears a good solution from his crew then says, "Make it so!"

    Management comes up with a dumb idea then says the same. Staff is left to figure out how, and wonder if they should still proceed against all common sense.

    Also called an "executive order" if you're The Florida Man.

    1. aerogems Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

      To be fair, if common sense actually existed, a lot of things would never happen. People often conflate common sense with good sense.

      Growing up I heard stories about a local doctor who would order a really invasive procedure for himself once a year. Not because it was in any way medically necessary, but because he wanted to make sure he knew what he'd be putting his patients through and not order that procedure for any of them lightly. These days, top executives at companies are generally completely divorced from the average employee. They have their own private entrances, with private elevators, which are set up so they have as short a distance as possible to mingle with the unwashed masses. There may not even be a way to get to the C-Suite from the rest of the building, or the door only opens one way. It's never going to happen that the CEO of Dell finds himself in the same elevator with some low level employee at the Dell campus. They isolate themselves so much that these sorts of stupid ideas are inevitable. Humans are social creatures, and we rely on one another to keep us grounded. Just like the farmer who lives miles away from their nearest neighbor can start to develop some "interesting" ideas about the world, the same goes for people who intentionally isolate themselves from anyone except cronies, sycophants, and general hangers on. People who will only tell them how great they are, never how bad an idea is. I'm sure every secretary/PA for every Fortune 500 CEO regularly scans their inbox and deletes any messages that somehow manage to slip through that might be critical of the boss. Of course, usually the rank and file can't directly email (or communicate in any other way with) the CEO anyway. We've seen how this story ends plenty of times before. The closing years of 18th century France being a particularly good example.

      If a Fortune 500 CEO had to actually work like a regular employee, I bet they wouldn't make it a month. It's easy to say everyone should work from the office when your office is roughly the same square footage as the average employee dwelling. When everyone comes to you for meetings, and you have someone whose whole job is to organize your calendar. You have people who run all your errands, you don't have to use a communal restroom, seeing and/or smelling the delightful "gifts" your coworkers sometimes leave behind. You don't have to smell it when someone decides to microwave fish in the breakroom, and plenty of other little perks. If everyone had those kinds of working conditions, working from the office would probably be pretty popular. If the Dell CEO had to hotdesk in an open floor plan layout every day with all the other working plebs, along with all of the other things they expect the rest of us to put up with, I'm very confident that they wouldn't last a month. Probably not even a week. I'm reminded of a vintage BOFH story where the boss gets demoted to Simon's job, and Simon becomes the boss, and after a few days of dealing with users, the boss is the new BOFH.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

        "The closing years of 18th century France being a particularly good example."

        Please remember that pretty much all of those who started and supported the revolution ended up on the chopping block in the end and France ended up with Napoleon in charge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

          OK but what was the downside?

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

            Getting beaten by the Brits (again) and going back to having a king?

        2. aerogems Silver badge

          Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

          That really wasn't the important part of the comment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reverse Jean-Luc Picard management

        I have to give my current employer credit here. The top person on the site (1000+ employees at site) routinely walks through the plebs' cube areas. As he was passing this week, I asked him a question (tangentially work-related but not important much less urgent), and he stopped and chatted for several minutes. He's quite pleasant and friendly, even to a leaf node (non-manager) like me.

        Where I used to work, they converted to an open-plan office, with tiny spots for each person. We're talking 4 feet wide, just enough to sit at the computer. Many of them were hotdesks. To be fair, the plant manager was smack in the middle of it. And then COVID hit. As nearly every seat was within 6' of at least 2 other people, WFH became mandatory for most workers.

  8. HuBo
    Headmaster

    Sucks to be a medieval tech company

    Office work is such an archaic concept in the contemporary IT world where appropriately developed tech fosters fast networking from arbitrary geographical locations, virtual presence and meetings. It is certainly sold as such to customers, and is the source of most major revenues for field players. Mandating RTO for promotion is just an admission of complete and utter failure at being a high-tech company IMHO. Might as well fold, DELL.

    1. aerogems Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Sucks to be a medieval tech company

      The sort of funny thing is, Dell sells a lot of shit that makes remote work possible. Almost everything they sell in fact.

      1. phils

        Re: Sucks to be a medieval tech company

        Zoom ordering people back in to the office was a particular peak of this genre for me. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66432173

        1. david bates

          Re: Sucks to be a medieval tech company

          Its particularly galling when people were told that we all had to pull together and people were expected to reorganise their homes and lives to do their jobs and allow the company they work for to actually survive.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get back

    Get back to where you once belonged.

  10. DS999 Silver badge

    Talk about unintended effect of the pandemic

    A company that supported remote work for over a decade before covid is now backtracking because everyone else is? Either they never believed in their remote work policy but felt they had to do it to get talent (i.e. not enough people willing to relocate to Texas) or those in charge now (maybe this is signaling Michael Dell will announce his retirement soon?) don't like the policy that he instituted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess that Dell is lucky enough to be able to find staff easily. My company (UK, aerospace, not IT) is struggling to get engineers and interviewers come out of the room with the clear understanding that they are the ones that have been interviewed by the candidates. WFH a few days a week, and certainly Mon and Fri, is taken for granted by most of the younger candidates and even the died-in-the-wool old-git managers like me are having to come to terms with it. I'm a PM with a team of about 15 and it's just another thing to to manage for me - and I like WFH too. My lot are clear that as long as we hit the schedule and the customer is happy then I don't care where they are. They're also clear that I assume they are adults and I'm not going to micro-manage their whereabouts. For customer meetings and key project meetings (design reviews, etc.) I'll schedule as sympathetically as I can and expect people to be in there in person, but if I've got to get involved in squabbles about normal day-to-day interactions then I'll deal with them as I would my kids and it won't end well. In reality, WFH is not even on my radar in terms of problems with getting the job done. In my experience WFH makes for happier people and has created a sort of organic flex in the organization that wasn't there before so, for example, unexpected personal stuff, like a sick kid or having to wait in for a plumber are no longer a small pain that can ripple through through the project and turn into a bigger pain.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      My company (UK, aerospace, not IT) is struggling to get engineers

      My company (UK, aerospace, not IT) is struggling to offer decent wage to get engineers

      FTFY

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Boffin

        re: FTFY

        Maybe the money isn't the only thing that people are looking for now?

        To some having an enjoyable life is more important than having the biggest income you can get.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: re: FTFY

          Nothing speaks more to the enjoyment of life than staring at an empty wallet and a pile of unpaid bills.

          You can get enjoyment from volunteering at your nearest charity.

          Employment is to generate profit and capital gains for company owners and shareholders.

          It's simply foolish to not want to receive as much compensation for this effort as possible.

          Sure, there are people who derive pleasure from the thought that they helped some wealthy individual acquire another yacht, while they scour eBay to find a spare part for their rusty Vauxhall.

          Oh and their wife left them for a guy who has his own house and drives BMW.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: re: FTFY

            That's a stupid assumption that people qualified to work for a UK "aerospace, not IT" company are going to be "staring at an empty wallet and a pile of unpaid bills". If they are it is because they made a deliberate choice to live beyond their means. If you give someone who makes that choice 10-20% higher pay they will live further beyond their means and still have unpaid bills.

            I think most people would agree that once you get a salary level where you are "comfortable", other perks start to become more important than a fatter paycheck. It is different for different people, some might like WFH, some might like more vacation time, some might like on site daycare, some might like free yoga classes over lunch...

            In my first full time job out of college back in the 90s I worked for an engineering company that was about a half hour commute from where I lived. Pretty traditional benefits in the US at the time, a stock bonus plan worth 5-10% of your salary and two weeks of vacation a year. They were rigid in some ways that was probably normal to people in their 40s and 50s working there but not a 20 something gen X slacker like me.

            When an opportunity opened up at the local university I jumped at it, despite a $2000 cut in salary (bigger than that when you consider that I was about to hit my 1 year anniversary and would be eligible for a raise that would typically be 5-10% or $2500 - $5000 for new employees who have "proven themselves") Why? Because the workday was 8:30-4:30 instead of 8-5, I could bike 10 minutes there instead of driving a half hour or take the bus in the winter, their retirement plan was at least as good (you contribute 5% of your salary they match with 10%) and you banked 2 days of vacation and 1 day of sick leave per month.

            It was a much more laid back environment so I did not miss a few thousand dollars higher pay or ever regret that move for a single moment!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: re: FTFY

              "That's a stupid assumption that people qualified to work for a UK "aerospace, not IT" company are going to be "staring at an empty wallet and a pile of unpaid bills". If they are it is because they made a deliberate choice to live beyond their means. If you give someone who makes that choice 10-20% higher pay they will live further beyond their means and still have unpaid bills."

              It's not. I'm in aerospace/defence, and I regularly see high skilled senior/principal engineering jobs which pay around the same as being the manager of a McDonald's restaurant, and the latter job doesn't require expertise and experience in a range of specialist areas.

              "When an opportunity opened up at the local university I jumped at it, despite a $2000 cut in salary"

              Yeah, well, the UK doesn't use Dollars and jobs that in the U.S. easily pay $140k+ often pay somewhere between £70k-£85k (approx $88k-$107k at the current rate). With often higher taxes, and the sky-high interest rates which drive up mortgages and rent, all on top of constantly increasing food prices.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: re: FTFY

                "I'm in aerospace/defence, and I regularly see high skilled senior/principal engineering jobs which pay around the same as being the manager of a McDonald's restaurant, and the latter job doesn't require expertise and experience in a range of specialist areas."

                The manager of a fast food restaurant isn't an unskilled worker. It's a different skill set than designing and building avionics. I managed a wood shop for a time and also worked as an engineering manager on rockets in charge of avionics. Both were not entry level jobs and the fast food manager is likely dealing with more stress.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: re: FTFY

                  "The manager of a fast food restaurant isn't an unskilled worker. It's a different skill set than designing and building avionics."

                  I didn't say restaurant managers are unskilled, but unlike aeronautical engineers managing a burger joint doesn't require a university degree, and the burger joint manager's skillset is closer to that of a plumber or electrician than to a degree'd engineer.

                  "I managed a wood shop for a time and also worked as an engineering manager on rockets in charge of avionics. Both were not entry level jobs and the fast food manager is likely dealing with more stress."

                  That depends on the specific job, really. Also not everything in the aerospace and defence sector is slow or laid back, and the stress from getting systems out of the door for a long-planned multi-national exercise is quite different from the stress caused by the softserve machine being down again.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: re: FTFY

              "If they are it is because they made a deliberate choice to live beyond their means. If you give someone who makes that choice 10-20% higher pay they will live further beyond their means and still have unpaid bills."

              If somebody has had no instruction in personal finance, it might not be that they are such big spenders that they are living beyond their means from over consumption. They may have wanted a job, working for a particular employer and never ran the numbers to see if the pay they'd get matched what it costs to live where that employer wants them to work. Plenty of people will always spend 10% more than they make, certainly, but that's not always the case.

        2. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: re: FTFY

          From recent experience of reading CVs people want a LOT of money.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: re: FTFY

            From recent experience there's a lot of inflation.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: re: FTFY

            "From recent experience of reading CVs people want a LOT of money."

            Was the ask justified? People can be very full of themselves, but so can companies. I'd ask for much more to work in London than Norwich. My costs and the level of aggravation are much different between the two areas.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re: FTFY

          I hear what you're saying. I left a job without having another one lined up because it sucked so much, despite being very profitable. (50+ hour weeks is a lot of overtime pay.) Never once regretted it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: re: FTFY

            I hear what you're saying. I left a job without having another one lined up because it sucked so much

            I did that once, to force myself to look for something new. I've just retired after 32 good years in the job I found.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        "Nobody wants to work any more", no, nobody wants to work for the pittance you're offering.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "My company (UK, aerospace, not IT) is struggling to offer decent wage to get engineers"

        It's not always wages. I'd never move back to the big city after having lived where traffic jams are the times when people have to drive the posted speed limit. I see arguments posted where companies say they have to be located <<here>> to be able to attract the sort of people the need. It's a load of tosh. I know people that have taken a job in the Silicon Valley and left shaking from the financial worries. It's not a good place to live and even though they were given a large salary, the cost of homes and the cost of living in general ate their paychecks piranhas. Traffic sucked. They worried for their kids and left town at every opportunity. I'm old and cynical enough now that my goal is comfort rather than wealth. I wound up somewhere that allowed me to buy a house and pay it off in a short time. Taxes are not as good as some places, but lower than many.

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Pint

      "...In my experience WFH makes for happier people and has created a sort of organic flex in the organization that wasn't there before..."

      Stuff like that is 1) really important and 2) very hard to quantify.

      Perhaps we need generally to look beyond the spreadsheets?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do not Google.

    There are plenty of other search engines.

    Most Google alternatives will not poison the first page of results by offering uniformly useless ads and sponsored "results"

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Do not Google.

      I've tried DDG it for a month or so now. It's OK mostly, but I regularly have to revert to Google because I can't find stuff with DDG that Google has on the first page of results. Its search syntax also seems to be very limited. A query like "Kitchen Aid Blender Coupler -amazon -ebay site:uk" works fine on Google and I don't get any Amazon or eBay results, but on DDG the first dozen or so pages are nearly all Amazon and eBay. I'd prefer not to use Google but the alternative has to tbe good enough and at the moment I'm on the verge of going back.

      1. VicMortimer Silver badge

        Re: Do not Google.

        Weird. That query works fine for US results if you leave off the "site:uk" but gives you a bunch of Amazon UK results with it.

        That's probably because "site:" on DDG doesn't work like you think it does. https://duckduckgo.com/duckduckgo-help-pages/results/syntax/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do not Google.

      Hear hear. I googled "markov chains" once, and was startled by how many ads offered free shipping on them. What kind of box do you ship a mathematical concept in?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Do not Google.

        "What kind of box do you ship a mathematical concept in?"

        A box designed by Möbius or Klein?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Do not Google.

        If you enjoy accessorizing with Markov chains, perhaps you'd be interested in this great deal on Abelian rings?

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Do not Google.

        "I googled "markov chains" once, and was startled by how many ads offered free shipping on them. "

        My search on that yielded lots of "related" ads for leather and latex.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look for trends

    It'll be interesting to see how this enforced WFO affects businesses going forward.

    If you are one of many in an office and you are easily replaced then you are probably screwed.

    But if you are a high value individual, a specialist and not easily replaced being told to get into the office or lose your paltry promotion/bonus hopes might well be the nudge to get you to jump ship.

    Big businesses invariably don't really notice losing an employee even an important one but if there is a haemorrhage of key staff it will impact profits after a lag.

    My own employer has insitgated a three line whip on returning to the office a majority of time however the call is effectively being ignored by layers of management below the boardroom as all the specialist staff told the business to go to hell. The board think their will has been imposed and aren't being corrected, the staff largely continue to WFO, the money continues to come in so the books look good. Everyone is happy.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Look for trends

      "The board think their will has been imposed and aren't being corrected, the staff largely continue to WFO..."

      Might be worth quietly checking local employment laws for 'custom and practice' regulations, and unobtrusively logging working arrangements.

      Just in case.

  14. naive

    It proves climate change is a hoax

    There is not a single government in the climate religion regions of the world giving incentives to either employers or employees for working at home.

    Working at home is a simple and extremely effective measure to reduce CO2 emissions, working much better than converting from gas engine powered cars to 2.5 ton Chinese built SUV's.

    Globally employees surrendered negotiating power by abandoning Unions, if organized, they would be able to thwart this kind of humiliating decrees, or even achieve that laws are made making it a right that 40% of the work time can be from home when the type of work allows it.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It proves climate change is a hoax

      amanfrommars got a new data set? It looks like English but fucked if I know what it's supposed to mean.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It proves climate change is a hoax

        No, this actually makes a certain amount of sense. To try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it would make sense to provide government incentives to companies that have their employees work from home. But that doesn't seem to actually happen. Ok, fair point. But "proving climate change is a hoax" and calling it a religion is dramatic hyperbole.

        (Unlike amanfrommars's posts, which are technically in English but that's about as far as it goes.)

    2. 0laf

      Re: It proves climate change is a hoax

      I think it proves that governments are lying gobshites that will say anything and climb on any bandwagon that suits them at any moment.

      The fact that WFO/WFH and climate targets could possible be linked in a positive or negative way is of absolutely bugger all interest to them.

      Ensureing their own, their donors and their friends commercial property portfolios continue to hold value is of far more importance.

      I don't think's it's got anything to do with the truth about climate change at all.

  15. tatatata

    Up to 2020, everyone worked in the office. That was normal. So, working in the office is not some wild idea that Dell suddenly proposed. People did it before and will do it after COVID.

    It is also not new that Dell wants workers in the office. Stopping WFH-allowances last year was also not the first indication. Dell is and has always been keen on getting people in the office. I think it is a bit naive to think that that would suddenly change.

    That being said, it is quite ironic that Dell makes quite a lot of money from people working from home. Their website offers "Remote Worker Solutions", "Work from home services" and proposes to "Accelerate employees’ productivity and collaboration from home with Dell Work from Home Solutions." Next time you speak to a Dell-salesman, ask about these solutions, and ask if they are using them too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Outside bogs, mangles and meat safes used to be normal too. Just cos it used to happen doesn't mean we want it back.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Up to 2020, everyone worked in the office.

      I didn't, and neither did many of my co-workers. Not everyone is you.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Stopping WFH-allowances last year was also not the first indication."

      They may have found that people were still saving bucket loads of money by not commuting and having moved someplace with a better cost of living that the loss of the allowance wasn't much of an incentive to return. Even a good set of trainers is expensive while very comfy bunny slippers are cheap. There may be a reason why I mention this.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why we can't have nice things

    I think if you are personally motivated and have the right mindset, WFH is a great thing. The challenge Covid brought about is that technology suddenly made it a piece of piss for staff to be sent home and those people who spend most of the day in the office chatting and getting Tea suddenly had this playground where they could extract every last ounce of piss from the situation.

    In normal cases, 80% of the work in a firm comes from 20% of the hard workers and there's a lot of dead wood (communications, HR, etc) who just waste everyone elses time - you put these people at home without chairs to to straighten or lunches to organize and what do you have left to do?

    Hardly a surprise these people who've had the life of riley for years would baulk at being asked to come in and work....shock horror.

    In my firm, some people took WFH to mean "i'm moving to Cornwall and you'll never see me again" without any authorization, if i was in charge they would be asked to come in and to hell with them. It's a job, not a lifestyle choice.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: This is why we can't have nice things

      Your authorisation is not required for someone to move house.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is why we can't have nice things

        My contract originally specified that I had to live within 1 hour's travel of the office to which I was attached, unless I had permission to live further afield. It was less and less observed and eventually dropped. When I retired I had a colleague who was nominally based in Milton Keynes but actually - and openly - lived in Oban.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: This is why we can't have nice things

        It might be if the job might require you to go somewhere. If, for example, I was the person they'd call if they wanted something physical changed, then I'd have a job requirement to go where that thing was in the time they expect. If my job involved going to in-person meetings in a certain location, they might have a similar requirement. Which house I live in is none of their business, but the general location can be. I don't know whether these considerations apply to the commenter above, but they might.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This is why we can't have nice things

          Yup. If you're on call for onsite work, it's generally frowned upon if it'll take you half a day to get there. Everywhere I've been where I was on call, I was expected to be there within an hour or so, but where I was (including the location of my residence) or what I was doing was my business. (The exception being that I would be expected to not be under the influence of alcohol or any drug.)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [Dell employee] There's more to it. If you do return to the office, you don't get a dedicated cube. You get a "rental" which could be anywhere in a "neighborhood". Might or might not be near your co-workers. Might or might not have the equipment you need. Might or might not have any kind of sound isolation at all, so you get to hear everyone's meetings -- because they're still Zoom meetings, you just participate from a cube rather than from home -- and they get to hear yours. And there's no overnight storage. so you carry everything in and out. There may or may not be cafeteria facilities.

    There's also the little problem of communicable diseases, which was the reason the remote policy was put in place. Those haven't disappeared. But interestingly, it's the older, more expensive workers and working mothers who are most concerned about carrying those home. Could it be coincidental that those are the categories of workers Dell would love to shed?

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      "Might or might not be near your co-workers"

      This is the epically stupid thing. One claim about WFH is that it hurts teams and you need to be in-person and together to work effectively. So if you are scattered around the building how is that any better? My OH WFH but goes in once a week. That 1 day in each week is relatively unproductive as its mostly spent talking with her co-workers nowhere near a desk as the hotdesk situation means they are scattered far and wide.

      What would normally be a 30-60 second query to the person sat 8-10ft away from you turns into a 30-60 minute quest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Indeed. My response to the arguement(s) is that teams work best when *co-located*. Just getting bums on seats in an office misses the point just as much as the WFH evangelists.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Yeah, it seems many companies going with the "hot desking" fad are doing it wrong, or at least poorly. At least one of the client I visit has a desk booking web/phone app so teams tend to book desks together and that mostly seems to work. The only real downside is you can only book up to two weeks in advance. Most people seem to book the same desks but there are odd times when there's more people than desks so those left "deskless" get to use the little "booths".

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Is there a car park with charging points and WiFi?

      Might be worth driving a camper van to work.

      Aside: it looks like the Renault Espace (first generation) was decades ahead of its time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So drive in, park, walk to the door, badge in, walk back to the car, work in the car, walk back to the door, badge out. Yeah, that makes as much sense as the policy itself ;)

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Precisely, it’s a way of complying but also creatively sticking two fingers up.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Might be worth driving a camper van to work."

        I know a person that was on a 4/10 schedule and had bought a camper van that he left in the car park. It was cheaper to do that than to have an apartment in town since his home was a distance away. Some co-workers rented a small basic flat to stay in since the city was expensive and they could have a home an hour or two away that they could afford. One of those finally figured out that they could find a job paying less where they owned a home and still come out far ahead at the end of each month.

    3. Simon 49

      The team is distributed across the country anyhow, all meetings are on screen rather than in a room for at least several participants - which makes the whole thing ridiculous - productivity is much better at home, without the commute, and with a guaranteed and optimal workspace free of noise of everyone else. Wasting two hours a day to driving only to sit with a single monitor with headphones on all day is idiotic.

  18. Joe Gurman

    Pretty much a classic case

    ....of an outfit that doesn't know how to manage its way out of a wet paper bag.

    Doesn't know its employees are its one, real asset.

    Doesn't know where its called-back-to-office employees are supposed to work.

    Doesn't give a crap.

    Sounds like Michael Dell.

    For what it's worth, the best service I got out of anyone in Dell government sales when I was still working was from a woman working out of her home. The people who supposedly worked in offices, in Virginia and Texas, at least, were never at their desks and never returned calls. You'd think a commercial outfit would actually, like, want to make sales. Guess my requirements didn't add up to enough $. In the same epoch, all I needed to do to order from Apple or grey-box vendors was to go their website. Dell couldn't be arsed to organize such a thing.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a dinosaur move.

    Next up, Dell will make all deliveries by donkey and all invoices will be in cuneiform on clay tablets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a dinosaur move.

      Is the immutability of a baked clay tablet what PDF was patterned after?

  20. Hurn

    Did I blink and miss it?

    "resuming a hybrid work schedule – working from a corporate office part of the time – or continue working remotely"

    As an IBM dinobaby, myself, up until Covid, I worked "on site," 5 days a week (and substantially more than 40 hrs per week, so much so, that my unpaid overtime [USian, no union] far exceeded my vacation time - still does, which is just wrong); I'm jealous:

    Does this mean:

    1. Prior to Covid, no one at Dell worked 5 days a week "on site" ?

    2. Post Covid, no one at Dell works 5 days a week "on site" ?

    If YES to both, as the article implies, isn't that a "good thing" ?

    It seems the article entirely leaves out the likelihood that a large number of people worked 5 days a week, "on site," before Covid, probably worked a couple to 5 days a week, "on site" during Covid, and are now back to working 5 days a week, "on site," post Covid.

    Also, how many worked remotely, before Covid, and are still working remotely, post Covid? The article doesn't seem to mention them, either.

    The fairness of a sliding scale of compensation for those who are forced to work "on site" vs those who work "hybrid" vs those who work "remote" is a whole other topic. Unfortunately,it seems to be the one left out of many of these discussions. Probably, because it would take away from the immediate goal of whoever is writing a particular article.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did I blink and miss it?

      Yup, you blinked and missed it.

      Productivity and employee satisfaction increased for many during the "remote work" experiment. Costs went down and things continued to perk along; the only losers here were those who profit from bodies-in-a-seat (read: the municipalities taxing the physical plants) and the fossils who believe that meetings are more effective when you can share germs. We're all amazed at how much more productive we can be when we can control the interruptions to our workday and eliminate the overhead of a commute.

      And like you, Dell employees put in a tremendous amount of unpaid overtime. It's just a lot easier to do that when instead of driving back into the office or staying late, you can head into another room of the house and continue working. Include weekends and holidays in that, by the way. Have your Thanksgiving dinner and excuse yourself to solve a problem at work; if you can't spend time with your guests, at least you can wish them goodbye in person if you're not in the office.

      Very, very few people worked on-site during the Covid epidemic. In fact, most employees were barred from even entering the facilities. A large number of people worked remotely pre-Covid, and most of those are now in jeopardy of losing their jobs simply due to their locations.

      No one is asking for more money, a sliding scale, or anything else. We simply want to continue providing value to the company in the most effective manner possible. For those who do so at an office, go to the office. For those who are more effective at home, let them continue to work from home. Is that so difficult to comprehend?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds nearly as bad as working at Google.

  22. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Overcrowded down there?

    《In today's global technology revolution, we believe in-person connections paired with a flexible approach are critical to drive innovation and value differentiation.》

    The particular infernal circle that houses the utterers of such nonsense must be bursting at the seams.

    The Hornèd One will likely require some D9 cats to enlarge his Pit - I don't imagine that enterprise entertain hybid or remote in any form.

    I would concede this particular pearl has the hallmark (watermark:) of ChatGPT or its ilk which is very definitely the product of that sable gent.

    More seriously if this mandate does so disproportionately disadvantage female employees I would have thought at least in some jurisdictions this mandate could be contested, as a class, under local employment discrimination legislation. Probably another argument for labour organisation.

    When I survey the 2020s and I see that so many of the all powerful and insanely wealthy appear to be bereft of any semblance of a soul which leads me to wonder whether some offenses don't await the decease of the damned before their soul is dispatched to the pit.

    1. spacecadet66

      Re: Overcrowded down there?

      "When I survey the 2020s and I see that so many of the all powerful and insanely wealthy appear to be bereft of any semblance of a soul"

      I think what you've just noticed is that sociopathy is real and not even that uncommon.

  23. 2Blockchainz

    EMC childcare

    When I was at EMC, I had my two children in EMC childcare, which was a benefit that many young women availed themselves. When Dell took over, the childcare center lasted another year before it was shut down.

    What companies they say they want and what they do are different things.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well we knew it would happen

    WFH is now proving to be the fallacy that it always was. A large number of corporate businesses are seeing the rot set in as the original productivity drops, new hires don't get the chance to find their feet in company politics and culture and overall it's stopped working the way we hoped it would.

    Even teams meetings etc are shown to be less productive, because what has to now be a meeting was before a more organic chat among your team without having to put this formal stop on work to join an online meeting.

    WFH has its place but sadly, not for the majority of employees in the majority of corporate businesses.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well we knew it would happen

      What is company culture and politics?

      For one company the only time the team got together was at 10am on a Monday morning in the canteen: arrive before 10 and you would be served a free breakfast and coffee - so no IT or notepads on the table.

      For another it was a monthly team meeting, and roughly six monthly 4 day training/networking events at a French chateau.

      For the 6 years I was a board member of a French company we had a three monthly 2 day get together: day 1 background updater, evening social, day 2 formal business followed by farewell beers at a local Paris cafe/bar.

      All this was in the 1990s, so plenty of experience around if you care to look…

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Well we knew it would happen

      [citation needed]

    3. spacecadet66

      Re: Well we knew it would happen

      Stats or it didn't happen.

    4. spacecadet66

      Re: Well we knew it would happen

      Several hours after saying "Stats or it didn't happen", I happened to find the stats, and guess what: it didn't happen.

      https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/02/rto-doesnt-improve-company-value-but-does-make-employees-miserable-study/

      As the abstract to the paper this article puts it:

      "Using a sample of Standard and Poor’s 500 firms, we examine determinants and consequences of U.S. firms’ return-to-office (RTO) mandates. Results of our determinant analyses are consistent with managers using RTO mandates to reassert control over employees and blame employees as a scapegoat for bad firm performance. Also, our findings do not support the argument that managers impose mandate because they believe RTO increases firm values. Further, our difference in differences tests report significant declines in employees’ job satisfactions mandates but no significant changes in financial performance or firm values after RTO mandates. In summary, our research contributes to the ongoing debate over RTO versus working from home and has important implications for practitioners."

  25. Alistair
    Windows

    RTO orders are likely to continue to happen all over.

    For one primary reason.

    Most companies, up till the oughties (2000~2009) owned properties that were their own offices, many did do leasing of some space as well, but after 2008/2009 a LOT of companies sold those properties to REITs (Real estate investment trusts) - These entities show spectacular ROR's (rates of return) from 2010 through 2019, and thus were HUGE in the investment industry, and thus many companies have HUGE investments in those REITs, which saw horrible drops in ROR from 2019. Have to get those ROR's back boys and girls, so we have to have bodies in offices, and well .......

    (wanna bet? ask the exec's issuing these RTO's where they're investments are and what level of growth/ROR they expect from them)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dell had significant layoffs this week. Those folks got packages. Bet that in April you'll see terminations instead, without packages, for those who either decline to be or cannot be in the office as ordered. Watch the talent drain take place...

  27. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
    Joke

    The list of Dell sites is available of course

    "But Mr Dabbs, the list have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

    “Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

    “But the list was on display …”

    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find it.”

    “That’s the display department.”

    “With a flashlight.”

    “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

    “So had the stairs.”

    “But look, you found the list didn’t you?”

    “Yes,” said Alistair, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

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