Apple employees oppose return to office in internal letter

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Apple employees are opposing a new policy requiring them to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Employees say they want a flexible approach where those who want to work remotely can do so, according to an internal letter obtained by obtained The edge.

“We would like to take this opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues,” the letter reads. “Apple’s flexible remote/location policy, and the communication around it, has already forced some of our colleagues to quit. Without the inclusiveness that flexibility brings, many of us feel like we have to choose between a combination of our family, our well-being and the ability to do our best work, or be part of Apple.”

The move comes just two days after Tim Cook sent a note to Apple employees telling them to return to the office Monday, Tuesday and Thursday beginning in the fall. Most employees can work remotely twice a week. They can also remain remote for up to two weeks per year, pending manager approval.

It’s an easing of restrictions compared to Apple’s previous corporate culture, which discouraged famous employees from working from home before the pandemic. Yet it is even more conservative compared to other tech giants. Both Twitter and Facebook have told employees they can work from home forever, even after the pandemic is over.

For some Apple employees, the current policy doesn’t go far enough and shows a clear gap between how Apple executives and employees view remote work.

“Over the past year, we often felt not only unheard of, but sometimes actively ignored,” the letter reads. “Messages like ‘we know many of you would like to reconnect in person with your colleagues in the office’, without messages acknowledging that there are directly conflicting feelings among us, feel dismissive and invalid… It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team feels about remote/location flexibility and the life experiences of many of Apple’s employees.”

The letter, addressed to Tim Cook, started in a “remote working proponents” Slack channel, which has about 2,800 members. About 80 people were involved in writing and editing the note.

Apple employees say embracing remote work is paramount to the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. “For inclusion and diversity to work, we need to recognize how different we all are, and with those differences come different needs and different ways to thrive,” they say.

Here are the specific questions outlined by employees in the note:

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

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

We formally request that a question about employee turnover as a result of remote work be added to exit interviews.

We formally request a transparent, clear action plan to accommodate disabilities through onsite, offsite, remote, hybrid or otherwise location-flexible work.

We are formally asking for an understanding of the environmental impact of returning to in-person work on location, and how permanent remote and location flexibility could offset that impact.

The letter was sent to Apple employees for signature on Friday afternoon.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The edge.