The ultimate irony: Hewlett-Packard tells employees to stop working at home, come to the office

hp garage
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First Yahoo created a buzz when Marissa Mayer ordered everyone into the office (while building a private nursery for her own use). Now another struggling giant, Hewlett-Packard, is doing the same. According to a memo published in AllthingsD,

As part of the company’s overall turnaround strategy, there is an effort underway to bring employees who currently work from home to work from the office. This effort is part of the company’s cultural shift and will help create a more connected workforce and drive greater collaboration and innovation.... During this critical turnaround period, HP needs all hands on deck. We recognize that in the past, we may have asked certain employees to work from home for various reasons. We now need to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration and the more employees we get into the office the better company we will be.

There is a lot of irony in this. The company was famously founded by home-workers in a garage that is now considered "the birthplace of Silicon Valley" and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Furthermore, H-P manufactures the hardware that makes it possible for people to work at home. If they want to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration, perhaps they should be building better tools for their employees to use, better hardware and collaborative software and then sell them to the rest of us, instead of insisting that "having employees work from the office will unite and inspire them to achieve higher levels of operational excellence and innovation."

They should be making tools for the 21st century worker instead of managing like it's the 20th.

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