The latest Apple return-to-office policy is being opposed by Apple Together, which rejects CEO Tim Cook’s argument that in-person collaboration is essential to effective working. The group points out that Apple’s valuation doubled during the pandemic, when most corporate employees were working from home.
The group has started a petition calling for a more flexible approach, although it is not currently revealing the names of signatories for fear of retaliation by HR…
The pandemic saw Apple allowing most of its corporate employees to work from home on a temporary basis. At the time, back in March 2020, no one could have predicted just how long that would remain the case – least of all Apple. The company has announced and then canceled a series of planned return-to-office dates no fewer than five times.
After a significant number of employees expressed a desire to continue working remotely on a permanent basis, the company originally took an uncompromising stance. Continued opposition, including some employees resigning over the issue, has seen Apple revise its policy twice to allow a little more flexibility.
The first change was to allow up to four weeks of full-time remote working each year. The second was to specify two days rather than three, allowing the third day of in-office working to be agreed by each team.
However, Apple’s stance offers less flexibility than many other tech giants, whose policies range from unlimited remote working to in-office work two days per week. Software engineers in particular have reported being more productive when working from home. Despite flexibility seemingly offering a win-win for Apple and its employees alike, the company has offered no further concessions.
The latest deadline for returning to the office three days a week is September 5.
Apple return-to-office argument rejected
A number of employees who banded together as Apple Together have now started a petition calling for greater flexibility.
The Financial Times reports that the petition was started yesterday.
Apple employees are pushing back against the iPhone maker’s call for workers to return to the office next month, arguing that they have shown they can perform “exceptional work” during two-plus years of flexible arrangements.
Apple Together […] began circulating a petition internally on Sunday, demanding “location flexible work”.
The group objects to a blanket, companywide policy, and says that many employees are both happier and more productive with greater flexibility. Reasons range from having more quiet, uninterrupted time to devote to concentrated work like writing software, to having more energy and enthusiasm for work without a two-hour round-trip commute.
Apple Together says it will not, at this point, publish the names of those signing the petition due to fears of retaliation.
“At this juncture we will not be releasing any specific names of individuals publicly or to exec leadership to protect our colleagues, especially in light of retail union busting and recent reports of allegations of retaliation from HR,” this person said.
A number of women who sought help from HR recently said that the company did not address the problem, but instead retaliated against them.
Apple has long argued that chance discussions between employees working on different projects have resulted in ideas that help the company to innovate. This was the key to Steve Jobs’s enthusiasm for the circular design of the Apple Park Campus.
Employees, however, say that while this may have been true when the company was a lot smaller, today it is a myth. Apple works in a silo-driven environment in which employees are often forbidden from discussing the nature of their work with fellow employees outside their own teams. Indeed, strict compartmentalization within teams means that they may have limited knowledge of what it is they are working on.
When your employees are telling you that they are more productive when working remotely, and their line-managers agree, it would seem sensible to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all policy. Without greater flexibility, Apple risks damaging morale and losing more talent.
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