Apple Staff Campaign Against Office Recall – Report

Apple staff are not overly happy at CEO Tim Cook’s memo last week informing them they had to return to the office by early September.

Last week Cook had issued a return to the office notice in a company-wide email, in which he said Apple staff should return to their desks for at least three days a week.

Cook reportedly said that most employees will be asked to come in to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option of working remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook at WWDC 2020. Image credit: Apple

Staff unrest?

However teams that need to work in-person will have to return to the office four to five days a week.

And it seems that Apple staff will also have the chance to work remotely for up to two weeks a year, “to be closer to family and loved ones, find a change of scenery, manage unexpected travel, or a different reason all your own,” Cook reportedly wrote.

Managers will also need to approve remote work requests.

The change is not entirely unexpected for Apple staff, as Apple is known for discouraging working from home prior to Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

But now the Verge has seen an internal letter from Apple staff, which shows a campaign to push back against Cook’s plans for a widespread return to the office.

Forced to quit

The internal letter reportedly said that staff are demanding more flexibility, and that Apple’s policy has “already forced some of our colleagues to quit”.

“We would like to take the opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues,” the letter reportedly says. “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.”

“Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored,” the letter reportedly states. “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 Verge reported that the letter was sent out to Apple employees to gather signatures last week, despite a line in the letter saying it “is not a petition, though it may resemble one.”

The letter, addressed to Tim Cook, reportedly started in a Slack channel for “remote work advocates” which has roughly 2,800 members. About 80 people were reportedly involved in writing and editing the note.

Staff are specifically asking Apple the following items:

  • To leave remote working decisions up to individual teams;
  • To carry out a company-wide survey on the topic across teams and the whole company;
  • To specifically ask about “employee churn” because of remote working in exit interviews;
  • To deliver a clear plan to accommodate disabilities through both remote and on-site working;
  • To provide data on the environmental impact of in-person on-site work compared with remote working.

Tech rivals

The issue of remote working at the moment varies depending on the company involved.

Google in April began accelerating the partial reopening of offices in the United States, and like Apple, sought to get staff to return to the office at least three days a week.

But a month later in May the firm backtracked somewhat and offered staff more flexible options for working at the office or home. It also announced that 20 percent of its workforce would be able to work from home permanently.

Twitter meanwhile has promised to allow staff to remote work indefinitely if they want.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted in May 2020 that 50 percent of the company’s employees could be working remotely over the next decade.

Facebook also allows employees to work remotely full time and relocate, but those employees may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations.

This gives some staff the option to relocate to US states where the cost of housing is more reasonable than it is in California.

Microsoft recently announced that it will allow staff who work at its Redmond sites and nearby campuses, to choose between returning to work full time, continuing to work remotely, or opting for a hybrid model.

Last October Microsoft had told staff it would allow more flexibility to work from home, even after it was safe to return to the office.

Microsoft staff can also ask their managers if they want to work remotely full time, or to potentially move to a new location.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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