Apple is already experiencing pushback on its announced return-to-office plans, with employees writing a letter objecting and citing demands.
Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to employees last week outlining the company’s return-to-office policy. The company wants employees to be in the office Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely Wednesday and Friday. Employees whose roles require more collaboration would be required to be in the office four or five days a week.
In the email, Cook emphasized the value of in-person collaboration, saying “video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”
It appears some of Apple’s employees disagree, and are objecting to the company’s plans. In a letter seen by The Verge, Apple employees are framing the decision as something that could, and already has, force some to reconsider their employment.
“We would like to take the opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues,” the letter reads. “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.”
Adding to the issue is the claim that Apple has been tone-deaf over the last year, not listening to what the employees want.
“Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored,” the letter continues. “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…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.”
The employees are requesting a number of concessions, including remote work being left up to teams to decide, just as hiring decisions are. Other requests include clearer communication and survey/feedback options about remote work; better accommodation for disabilities, regardless of the work environment or location; a question added to exit surveys to determine if lack of remote work was a factor; and more information regarding the environmental impact of remote work versus returning to the office.
Given the blockbuster year Apple has experienced — including the introduction of the M1 chip, M1 Macs, the new M1-based iPad Pro, AirTags and more — the company may find it difficult to justify a hard line on in-office work when so much as been accomplished remotely.