IBM losing its ‘top employer’ mojo in India

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 25, 2017

IBM, which once pioneered employee-friendly policies such as ‘work from home’, is now asking thousands of employees to report to office   -  Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Tech giant rolling back ‘work from home’ policy

IBM, once the top multinational employer of choice in India, is at risk of falling off that pedestal. The $80-billion tech giant, which had an estimated headcount of 1.3 lakh employees in 2010, is now down to 90,000 employees across 22 cities.

And given that like most multinationals, 10-15 per cent of these are contract staff, the full-time employee headcount may be only 80,000, internal and external sources told BusinessLine.

No longer a big recruiter

“IBM has been absent from serious campus hiring programmes in the past 3-4 years, except for a few hundreds now and then,” said B S Murthy, CEO, OneTech Ventures India Pvt Ltd, a HR tech company, who has hired employees in bands 6 to 10 for IBM from 2006 to 2013.

“The company’s mojo of a top employer no longer exists, with hardly any organisational branding or corporate communications initiatives in recent years. They are practically shut off from the world,” Murthy added. The company that once pioneered employee-friendly policies like ‘work from home’ is now pulling it back, and is asking thousands of its employees to report to office. In line with its global policy, IBM has tightened its stance in India too.

“IBMers from several departments have been asked to report to office, I’m dreading the day when my boss will tell me to report to office; the commute will kill me,” said Rashmi ( name changed), a band 6 employee.

One IBM’ policy

BusinessLine sought IBM’s response, but the company said it would not like to comment on the emailed queries.

A senior-level executive from IBM explained: “In areas like domestic sales, we are following the ‘One IBM’ policy by bringing together employees from several locations in Delhi, Noida and Gurugram together in one location for better coordination, resolution and teamwork.”

When IBMers in band 10 and above were found misusing perks like car maintenance allowance, by changing tyres and upholstery on a whim, the company withdrew it. Employees now pay for tea/coffee, which was earlier being provided for free, revealed another insider.

Analysts tracking IBM said 30 per cent of IBM India employees work from home. “Several organisations are looking to lay off employees by revoking their ‘work from home’ policy,” said one of them, on condition of anonymity.

In the Future of Work 2017 study by Greyhound Knowledge Group, for which 1,056 global organisations were interviewed, 93 per cent said they were implementing/planning to invest in technologies like Mobile Device/Application Management to allow employees to be connected in real time.


“However a dozen Fortune 500 companies, who are thought leaders, are looking to curtail or completely remove work-from-home for employees, citing issues of data security, sensitive processes and cyber threats,” notes Anshoo Nandwaani, VP & Principal Analyst, Greyhound Research.

Anil Bhasin, Managing Director – India & SAARC, Palo Alto Networks India said, “Organisations must invest in building a preventive security architecture that will identify and authenticate legitimate users, make sure they have access to relevant applications alone, and scan all content to clear them of known and unknown threats.”

Employees, he said, “can then work off-premise, out of a hotel’s internet network when they are travelling or even from a home network, without jeopardising the organisations’ data security or falling prey to cyber threats.”

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Published on July 25, 2017
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