'This thing is dumb' | Dell's RTO push rebuffed by nearly half of its full-time US staff

Dell's RTO push rebuffed by nearly half of its full-time US staff

Dell’s recent return-to-office (RTO) push has been met with staunch opposition from employees, with nearly half of full-time staff reportedly refusing to come into the office.

The technology giant introduced the RTO mandate in February, informing workers they must classify as a hybrid worker or a remote worker.

Hybrid workers must be in the office a minimum of 39 days per quarter. Dell tracks employee attendance with electronic badge swipes and VPN monitoring, before assigning them a color code indicating their level of on-site presence.

Meanwhile, it informed remote employees they were free to work from home, but would sacrifice promotion opportunities.

“For remote team members, it is important to understand the trade-offs: Career advancement, including applying to new roles in the company, will require a team member to reclassify as hybrid onsite,” a memo sent to employees read.

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Despite Dell’s hopes that this would push workers back to the office, data seen by Business Insider appears to show that nearly half have chosen to continue working from home.

Looking beyond the US, approximately a third of international employees have chosen to stay remote.

The data showed that around a third of international staff chose to stay remote.

Responding to Business Insider, a Dell spokesperson did not address questions on the data but stated that "in-person connections paired with a flexible approach are critical to drive innovation and value differentiation."

Employees say Dell’s RTO policy just isn’t working

Eleven employees across HR, sales, tech support, and engineering anecdotally confirmed the data based on their knowledge of their team—though had not seen the data itself.

 "My team is spread out around the world,” an employee stated. “Almost 90% of the team did the same as in our case there was no real advantage going to the office.”

 Other employees said that personal development, financial benefits, and work-life balance including spending more time with family were all reasons for sacrificing promotion opportunities to continue working from home.

"The more time I have to spend in the office, the less time, money, and personal space I have for all of that,” one worker explained. “I can do my job just as well from home and have all of those personal benefits as well.”

"With the salary that we are receiving, a return to the office would leave a huge hole in our budget," another added.

The latest feedback from the workers echoes criticism from employees when the policy was announced in February. Some described the policy as a form of “quiet firing” and as “anti-woman.”

"Every mom that I talk to at Dell says that they are looking for other jobs because they need the remote work," one staffer noted.

Another stated they would “jump ship” as soon as an offer came along, and observed that nearly every non-junior employee he knows shares a similar mindset.

 "Before this whole fiasco, I wouldn't have considered going somewhere else," he added. "Being a second-class citizen doesn't leave you any career opportunities."

Others said at the time that the policy placed them in a difficult position as, due to being based too far away from one of the company’s 17 “approved” offices in the US, classifying as remote was the only alternative to relocating.

One of the eleven workers said this is the reason they have continued to work remotely. "Dell closed down the facility in 2020 that I worked at, so I have no office to return to," they explained.

No response from HR over worker concerns

Criticism in February also highlighted that many teams are spread nationally or internationally, denting Dell’s hopes that the policy would drive in-person connection as most workers would still not be in the same office as their teammates.

Months later, this appears to be the case for some employees. “The particular work I'm doing now means I don't really have a 'team,' and the people I work with most are at different sites," one worker explained to Business Insider.

A remote employee said their meetings are now “with people in different conference rooms across the country by themselves.”

"The reality of this thing is dumb,” they added.

Despite the complaints, one worker said Dell’s HR team had offered no response about the staff’s frustrations with the policy.

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