Apple employees push back against returning to the office in internal letter

Filed in Internet by on June 6, 2021

Employees at Apple are protesting a new policy that would require them to return to the office three days a week beginning in early September. According to an internal letter obtained by The Verge, employees want a flexible approach that allows those who want to work remotely to do so.

“We would like to take this opportunity to express a growing concern among our colleagues,” says the letter. “Apple’s remote/location-flexible work policy, as well as the communication surrounding it, have already compelled some of our colleagues to resign. Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel compelled to choose between our families, our well-being, and the ability to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.”

The change comes just two days after Apple CEO Tim Cook informed employees that they would be required to return to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays beginning in the fall. The majority of employees can work remotely twice a week. They can also work remotely for up to two weeks per year, subject to manager approval.

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It represents a relaxation of restrictions in comparison to Apple’s previous corporate culture, which famously discouraged employees from working from home prior to the pandemic. Nonetheless, it is more conservative when compared to other tech behemoths. Twitter and Facebook have both told employees that they can work from home indefinitely, even after the pandemic is over.

For some Apple employees, the current policy is insufficient, and it demonstrates a clear divide between how Apple executives and employees view remote work.

“Over the last year, we frequently felt not only unheard but at times actively ignored,” according to the letter. “Messages such as, ‘we know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with your colleagues back in the office,’ with no acknowledgement that there are directly contradictory feelings amongst us, feels dismissive and invalidating… It appears that there is a gap between how the executive team views remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many Apple employees.”

The letter, which was addressed to Tim Cook, began in a Slack channel for “remote work advocates,” which has approximately 2,800 members. The note was written and edited by approximately 80 people.

Employees at Apple believe that embracing remote work is critical to the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. “In order for inclusion and diversity to work, we must acknowledge how different we all are, and with those differences come different needs and different ways to thrive,” they write.

The following are the specific requests outlined by employees in the note:

We are formally asking Apple to consider remote and location-flexible work decisions to be as autonomous for a team to make as hiring decisions.

We formally request a company-wide recurring short survey with a clearly structured and transparent communication/feedback process at the company-wide, organizational-wide, and team-wide levels, covering the topics listed below.

We are formally requesting that a question about employee churn as a result of remote work be included in exit interviews.

We are formally requesting a transparent, well-defined plan of action for accommodating disabilities through onsite, offsite, remote, hybrid, or otherwise location-flexible work.

We are formally requesting information about the environmental impact of returning to onsite in-person work, as well as how permanent remote and location flexibility could mitigate that impact.

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Late Friday afternoon, the letter was distributed to Apple employees for signature.

Apple did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment.

Read the full letter below:

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