IT Strategy

Almost 50% of Dell’s US workforce said no to RTO mandate: report

Dell’s RTO mandate has failed to convince much of its workforce to come into facilities.
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Months after Dell warned most of its remote workers that they needed to return to office (RTO) or face the consequences, about half of its workforce has chosen the consequences.

In February, Dell mandated that remote staff choose between reclassifying themselves as hybrid—which requires a minimum of three days per week in office—or lose their eligibility for promotions and role changes. Dell management then implemented a color-coded attendance grading system for hybrid staff.

Even that push apparently wasn’t enough to get many Dell personnel back into the office. Business Insider, citing “internal data on the entire full-time workforce,” reported that almost 50% of the company’s US employees have chosen to remain remote. Among international staff, the percentage was around a third.

“My team is spread out around the world,” one worker told BI. “Almost 90% of the team did the same as in our case there was no real advantage going to the office.”

In some cases, employees chose not to come in because Dell had closed nearby offices, or so few colleagues were in their area that they saw no benefit from coming in. Dell workers also told the news site that there were few promotion opportunities. The company has reported rocky financials over the past few years.

A Dell spokesperson responded to the claims in a statement to Fortune that around 75% of global staff and nearly 70% of US staff "who live near a major Dell office" had chosen hybrid status. (The same statement was also forwarded to IT Brew after a request for comment.)

While evidence as to whether remote workers are more or less productive is mixed at best, research has found that many workers would rather find a new job than return to the office (in part due to factors like the lack of a commute). University of Pittsburgh researchers released a paper earlier this year suggesting RTO mandates not only don’t improve business performance, but help management at ailing firms scapegoat workers.

Stanford economist Nick Bloom, one of the academics behind WFH Research, has argued that RTO mandates hit a plateau at the end of 2022 and won’t make a comeback, because being more flexible allows businesses to save on hiring and turnover.

“Fully remote is also hugely profitable, even if it’s negative on productivity,” Bloom told IT Brew earlier this year.

One Dell worker told Business Insider that many of his colleagues are searching for new jobs.

“Being a second-class citizen doesn’t leave you any career opportunities,” he said.

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.