Dell said to be preparing broad Return To Office order this Monday

Remote work option will still be offered – but at the cost of career advancement

Exclusive On Monday Dell is expected to send a "Return To Office" notification to all employees, a source familiar with the matter has told The Register.

Dell last year implemented a more limited version of this policy, directing those living within an hour's commute of a nearby office to work from there at least three days per week. In so doing, Dell abandoned a 2020 commitment made during the pandemic to allow 60 percent of its workforce to come in only once or twice per week.

The latest RTO memo, it's claimed, reclassifies most workers as hybrid – meaning they must work from a corporate office for at least 39 days per quarter, the equivalent of three days per week. Workers below a certain pay grade will have the option to choose to be fully remote, at the expense of career advancement opportunities, we're told.

"It’s clear from the details I’ve seen that this is a way of thinning the herd," our source said. "Folks who live a few hours away from the office will have to go into an office and if they do not, they have to sign up to a remote contract with the tacit understanding that being remote is career limiting."

This is a way of thinning the herd

Other companies like Amazon, Google, IBM, and Meta have issued similar directives.

Workers challenging corporate layoffs in court have argued that relocation requirements serve to push out older workers in a way that avoids the obligation to pay severance. Older workers with established community ties are said to be less inclined to undertake long commutes or to change living arrangements to meet corporate demands, and thus tend to resign more often than younger, less attached, less costly colleagues.

Our source further suggests that Dell expects such attrition and isn't prepared to enforce its RTO mandate. "Offices are too small and the new locations are serviced offices with no way of tracking employees coming and going because they are not locations where Dell badges work," we're told.

Some groups, it's claimed, will be exempt from this policy – specifically field-based and customer-facing teams. Dell did not respond to a request to confirm these details, though they echo similar claims shared among IT professionals that The Register has had sight of.

We're told that Dell undertook a round of layoffs this week, though it's not clear how many workers have been affected. In North America, our source said, those let go have been mainly marketing and non-sales staff. Sales cuts, it's claimed, should come next week, with a larger marketing reorganization in March.

In the Netherlands, we're told, 15 percent of staff were cut. Also, there's said to be a voluntary program in France to encourage those with ten or more years of service to leave the IT goliath.

Our source suggests this is the result of Dell "obsessively following some Bain mantra" that a $100 billion company needs 100,000 employees. Dell currently has about 133,000 [PDF].

As we just reported, the financial rationale for ordering home-based workers back to the office looks dubious: A recent University of Pittsburgh study found that RTO does not boost profits nor stock valuation. And research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco comes to a similar conclusion.

At the same time, cities are ordering businesses back to office if they want to keep their tax breaks.

"The whole thing is madness and the feeling from my team is that it’s time to dust off resumes and look for something else," our source said.

Updated to add

"We shared with team members our updated hybrid work policy," a Dell spokesperson told The Register on Monday.

"Team members in hybrid roles will be onsite at a Dell Technologies office at least 39 days per quarter (on average three days a week). In today’s global technology revolution, we believe in-person connections paired with a flexible approach are critical to drive innovation and value differentiation." ®

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