This week, I found a couple of articles that I had considered for separate posts. Upon reflection, I think there’s a unifying theme for both of them. They’re about major companies doing idiotic and self-destructive things.
I don’t mean the usual types of stupid hijinks such as appointing diversity officers or anything like that. I mean they’re taking actions that threaten to ruin their brands, corporate cultures, and possibly their businesses.
First, IBM has decided to stop allowing its employees to work from home because, well, nobody seems to know for sure.
You’d think that IBM’s executives would realize that the company’s unparalleled record of financial growth and innovation might somehow be connected with the fact that, at last count, about 40 percent of its employees work from home.
But you’d think wrong.
IBM management has decided to kill the goose that’s laid decades-worth of golden eggs by forcing its workers to report to regional facilities. Employees who don’t comply will be fired.
The majority of employees have complied, but I think that’s only because IBM has bought out so many companies, there’s nowhere much better for many of them to go. Still, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to work from home, you know the enormous benefits that come from no longer having to commute or arrange child care. Were I a talented software engineer, I’d tell IBM to get fucked. I agree with the author that this is a profile in failure in the making.
Next up is Starbucks. They treat their employees like crap, this is known. But it appears that they’ve adopted a “beatings will continue until morale improves” mantra.
But the employee left the meeting infuriated, feeling that Starbucks was forcing baristas to take responsibility for customer-service problems caused by other issues like understaffed stores, an increasing demand from mobile and drive-thru orders, and time-intensive drinks. In the meeting, he said, Starbucks essentially ordered employees to find a way to improve the customer experience — or quit the company.
“Everyone’s jaw dropped,” he said. “There was a point where they said if you’re not down with this, you’re welcome to get out.”
Now, it goes without saying that an IBM engineer is a helluva lot more valued by the workforce than a barista, but this is shake-my-head crazy. I like Starbucks coffee just fine, but I rarely go there. One reason is the pretentiousness, sure, but it’s also because it’s always an agonizing wait every time I go. If I can’t go in and leave within five minutes with a simple large cup of black coffee, it’s unacceptable.
See, I only drink black coffee. So those of you with your fancy frappucinos are usually an obstacle to my inner joy. Ah, but now I see that it’s not your fault. Starbucks has apparently deliberately been causing slow service because, well again, I have no idea. Then they lay the blame on the hassled employees at the bottom of the chain. That’s just ignorant.
I don’t understand modern corporate culture anymore. When they take actions that clearly will, no matter how evil or bizarre they may seem, boost profits; I get it. I don’t see where either of these cases will do so though.
Providing office space for formerly remote employees costs money in IBM’s situation. This certainly won’t increase productivity and is more likely to reduce it.
Starbucks would seem to be increasing profits by paying their employees shit wages and understaffing locations, but nobody is going to keep going there if the mobile and drive thru orders are causing such delays that a capuccino takes half an hour to purchase, are they?
Yeah, I just don’t get it. Even the diversity stuff and other virtue signalling that most corporations do these days is okay with me. I get why they do it even if I think it’s retarded and condescending. Major and probably disastrous decisions like those being made by IBM and Starbucks just confuse me. I guess I’d be annoyed if I were a stockholder or, worse, an employee.