Dell cracks down on hybrid working again — computing giant is going to start color-coding employees to show who is coming back to the office

Workers at computers in an office
(Image credit: Unsplash / Israel Andrade)

Dell has issued a nineteen eighty-four-esque warning to its hybrid working employees, who shall from now on be tracked using electronic badge swipes, VPN usage and a color-coding system, in order for the company to keep tabs on office usage.

A source familiar with the matter told The Register the new initiative, spearheaded by COO Jeff Clarke, is designed to monitor the on-site presence of the company’s hybrid workers.

The system will be used to grade employees based on their presence in the office for at least 39 days per quarter, which equates to around three days per week.

Dell vs hybrid working

Starting May 13, Dell intends to provide employees with weekly updates on their onside presence through its HR software, with reports accompanied by a color-coded rating. The ratings will include green, yellow and red flags for ‘regular,’ ‘some’ and ‘limited’ on-site presence, with a special blue flag awarded to those with ‘consistent’ on-site presence.

A Dell spokesperson commented (via The Register): “In today’s global technology revolution, we believe in-person connections paired with a flexible approach are critical to drive innovation and value differentiation.”

However, workers have expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s increasingly strict measures. The news comes just weeks after the company announced it would be penalizing workers for working from home too much, with promotions being threatened.

Other workers have linked the increased surveillance with continued headcount reduction and cost optimization efforts. Dell laid off around 6,000 workers in March 2024, and a further 6,650 in February 2023. Both times, the company saw a 5% reduction in its workforce.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!