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Dell monitors office traffic and distributes red flags

Dell continues its return-to-office mandate.

The tech giant told U.S. employees who chose to classify themselves as hybrid workers that it had begun monitoring their presence in the office by tracking badge swipes, according to an internal memo seen by Business Insider.

Dell began monitoring attendance on May 6 and will make the data visible on each hybrid employee’s profile on the Workday HR platform this week.

The data will then be used to categorize employees with a blue, green, yellow or red flag each quarter.

Business Insider spoke with 10 current Dell employees, all of whom asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Most opposed the policy, and many complained that it seemed unnecessarily strict, with one staff member telling BI that some employees felt “followed like kindergarteners and were afraid their names would end up on a list”.

The Dell memo states: “As the next step in implementing our hybrid work policy, we will track on-site attendance using badges for hybrid-designated team members. »

“Starting Monday, May 13, you will be able to see your weekly site visits data. At the end of the quarter, site visits will be rolled up and reflected using category ranges.”

Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, speaks during the

Michael Dell, President and CEO of Dell Technologies.


Blue flags, reflecting Dell’s corporate colors, are the highest ranking and are awarded for “constant on-site presence”, meaning 39 or more days in the office per quarter, while green flags are awarded for “regular presence on site”.

Yellow flags reflect “some presence on site,” and red flags will be distributed for “limited presence on site.”

The color of their name will be considered for performance reviews, rewards and compensation, Dell told employees.

Employees who chose to remain remote during the company’s hybrid work policy overhaul, first announced in February, will not be monitored. However, by choosing to remain remote, they are no longer eligible for promotion or able to change roles.

Dell employees classified as remote and hybrid told Business Insider they were disappointed with how the company was implementing the new policy.

“Dell is no longer the place where employees were respected and valued. There are so many people who are demoralized and will be hurt by this policy,” said one Dell employee, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Dell is in a state of dictatorship,” said another.

“Lack of flexibility”

Other staff who spoke to BI expressed concerns about the “lack of flexibility” of the new monitoring system. One said that for a company dedicated to technological innovation, Dell’s “internal technologies and approaches are totally outdated.”

According to an internal policy FAQ viewed by BI, the attendance tracking solution is based solely on data from badge scans.

This means that if an employee forgets their badge, goes on a business trip, or takes approved annual leave, the system marks them as absent.

The FAQ confirms that regularly showing up without a badge means you will appear “red” on the system.

According to Dell, workers will not be penalized for this.

Dell Round Rock Texas

Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, where staff attendance will be monitored.

Brandon Bell/Getty

“We do not have a way to consistently count on-site attendance when a badge reader is not available, so we will use the honor system and hope you adhere to the policy.”

Dell explained to staff that by reporting attendance in increments, the system can account for “odd days when a team member is on Dell-approved time off, business travel, company vacation , etc.”

It’s unclear what happens if an employee regularly moves out of a positive attendance bracket for legitimate reasons. This lack of clarity has caused “a lot of frustration,” according to a senior Dell executive.

“No one really knows what it means if you’re designated hybrid but you’re unable to meet three days a week.”

Contacted by BI, Dell did not respond to specific questions about system flexibility, but confirmed that staff in hybrid positions must be onsite at least 39 days per quarter, or an average of 3 days per week.

“In today’s global technology revolution, we believe in-person connections combined with a flexible approach are key to driving innovation and value differentiation,” the company told BI.

Dell is part of a growing list of major companies forcing more work into the office after years of working from home spurred by the COVID pandemic.

After initially embracing work from home, tech giants like Google, Meta and Salesforce have all abandoned remote working and mandated employees now spend a certain part of their time in the office.

Many companies have faced internal backlash because of these policies. In February, financial giant Deutsche Bank was criticized by its staff after imposing three days of office attendance, despite complaints that there was not enough space to accommodate all employees.

In the hands of managers

Dell assigns responsibility for monitoring workers to individual managers, and any future actions based on low attendance “will be at the discretion of the manager, and not driven centrally or by HR,” according to the FAQ document.

“It’s not as abrupt as it seemed when the announcement was first made. We can work with our management for abnormal exceptions,” said one employee, who perceived the manager-by-manager approach positively.

However, others see the new system as an additional workload for already overburdened executives.

“It’s a further waste of time in an environment where more people continue to be assigned to fewer people,” a Dell executive said.

Managers’ leniency will also vary by team, BI sources said.

One staff member who works under senior management said his boss told staff he would be happy as long as “he saw a 3 in the 39 day countdown.”

“He personally thinks the new policy is ridiculous,” the source said. “He has better things to do than count the days he spends at the office.”

But their manager told a friend on another team that they expected everyone to be blue every week, the source said.

“Effectiveness will definitely depend on the manager. There will surely be managers who do not track their leave as well as they should and who blame employees for not being in the office despite vacation days,” agreed another source at Dell.

These changes “really incentivize people to look to Dell as an employer,” the source added.

Are you an employee at Dell or another company that pushes staff into the office? Contact this journalist at pthompson@businessinsider.com


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