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Apple employees push back against returning to the office

They want more flexibility and choice about where they work.

Allie Nawrat

Leader

Apple office
Credit: Alinabu via Twenty20.

Apple is out of step with its tech giant rivals. Unleash Your Work

  • Last week, Apple informed its US employees that it wanted them to come back to the office three days a week.
  • But a cadre of Apple employees is not keen to return to the office.

Apple employees in the US have kicked back against the company’s decision last week to call them back into the office three days a week from early September.

In a note, Apple CEO Tim Cook told US employees they would need to return to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from September. Most employees would then be allowed to work from home the other two days a week.

[Listen now: Spotify’s VP of HR on Working From Anywhere]

However, a group of the tech giant’s employees are unhappy and want more flexibility in their working location. They want the decision about returning to the office to be made on a team by team basis, which is how hiring decisions are currently made.

In an internal letter, which was obtained by The Verge, the employees wrote: “We would like to take the opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues. That Apple’s remote/location-flexible work policy, and the communication around it, have already forced some of our colleagues to quit.

“Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.

“This is a decision none of us take lightly, and a decision many would prefer not to have to make. These concerns are largely what prompted us to advocate for changes to these policies, and data collected will reflect those concerns.”

According to The Verge, the letter originated from a company Slack channel titled ‘remote work advocates’, which has more than 2,800 members. However, 80 people were involved in writing and editing the letter itself.

The letter continued: “Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored.

“Messages like, ‘we know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with your colleagues back in the office,’ with no messaging acknowledging that there are directly contradictory feelings amongst us feels dismissive and invalidating.  

“Not only do many of us already feel well-connected with our colleagues worldwide, but better-connected now than ever. We’ve come to look forward to working as we are now, without the daily need to return to the office.

“It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple’s employees.”

Instead of returning to the office, US Apple employees believe the future of work should be much more flexible in terms of location and time zone.

This is because they believe the benefits of remote and location-flexible work include diversity and inclusion in terms of talent acquisition and retention, “tearing down previously existing communication barriers”, an improved work-life balance, and reduce spread of pathogens and illnesses in the workplace.

This Apple employee letter not only makes it clear that Apple executives are out of touch with the views of their employees on the benefits of remote working, but it also shows that Apple’s views are disconnected from those of its tech giant competitors.

Both Facebook and Twitter have stated that their employees can work from home permanently. Google has stated that the future of work at the company will be hybrid but has given the option for employees to apply to work entirely remotely, as well as choose to relocate to another office anywhere in the world.

[Read more: 11 listed companies embracing the future of work]

UNLEASH has reached out to Apple for a comment, but is yet to receive a response.

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