Apple employee group rejects planned return to the office

Not everyone is keen on returning to the office once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, and Apple may be more aware of that than most. The Verge reports that about 80 Apple employees have written and edited a letter urging Tim Cook to rethink plans requiring staff to return to the office in September. They felt “actively ignored” by leadership, which claims people are eager to return to in-person collaboration, and wanted an option for full-time remote work rather than the planned twice a week.

The writers wanted Apple to let teams decide who could work remotely or in flexible locations, and to create a “clear plan of action” for accommodating people with disabilities through remote and flexible work. They also wanted details of how on-premises work would impact the environment, and an exit interview question asking if remote work played a role. Apple should also issue a recurring survey asking workers about these issues, the writers said.

We’ve asked Apple for comment.

It’s not clear just how influential the letter might be. While the writing group was relatively small, it reportedly began in a “remote work advocates” Slack channel with about 2,800 members. If so, it might reflect the concerns of a significant number of Apple’s non-retail employees.

Apple’s September plan takes a looser approach to working from home than before the pandemic, when it generally insisted on office work. It’s decidedly stricter than you’ll find at other companies. Twitter will let many employees work remotely as much as they want. Google’s hybrid return to work plan shares a three-day office schedule like Apple’s, but it will also include more remote-only positions and change depending on the needs of a given team. Apple might face pressure to adjust its policies, if just to reflect shifting attitudes toward remote work among other tech giants.

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