Reports were conflicted this week about whether IBM’s recent decision to curtail its industry leading work from home benefit is a net positive.

According to a CNN article, “the technology giant has been a leader in terms of letting employees work from home, and has bragged about the savings and increased productivity that’s resulted. About 40% of its nearly 400,000 employees worldwide did not have a traditional office, the company said in 2007, which is the last time it released such data.”

But now the company is pulling back that benefit for thousands of workers, although the company won’t say exactly how many, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move is reminiscent of one several years ago, when Yahoo! similarly and famously pulled back on allowing its employees to work from home, as highlighted in a CoreNet Global white paper that was covered by Fast Company. In the paper, Yahoo! had said that the decision was the right one for the company.

Fast Company responded to the IBM announcement, saying that the move will backfire: “Not only do flexible work arrangements top job seekers’ lists of priorities, but making successful hires depends much more on relevant skills than on physical location. So if, months from now, IBM points to the number of employees choosing to relocate in order to keep their jobs as evidence of success, don’t buy it. Many will do just that because they have no other options, while the most high-performing, in-demand talent flies the coop.”

As we have held discussions with corporate real estate executive leaders around the world, there is no question that flexible work environments are a top priority for workers, especially millennials.

But does that mean that companies have to surrender having a “place” where workers not only collaborate in person, but also are held accountable among supervisors as well as those they manage? The physical workplace also serves as the heartbeat of the company’s brand, culture, ethos and mission.

One thing is certain: Employers are going to have to provide work environments that take into consideration workers’ needs and that includes flexibility.

As Mark Gorman, MCR, SLCR, Vice President of Corporate Real Estate & Facilities at Ciena, said in our recent report on the Future of Corporate Real Estate: “It goes beyond simply providing a work/life balance. To have productive employees you need to deal with the whole person.”