Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Apple employees reject return to on site work in open letter

A group of Apple employees collectively calling themselves “Apple Together” has released an open letter to executives criticizing the company’s Hybrid Work Pilot program for what they perceive as its inflexibility.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a memo in March requiring all employees to work on-site two days a week from May 2 and three days a week by May 23.

In the letter, the employees explained that their “vision of the future of work is growing further and further apart from that of Apple’s executive team.”

“We definitely see the benefits of in-person collaboration; the kind of creative process that high bandwidth communication of being in the same room, not limited by technology, enables. But for many of us, this is not something we need every week, often not even every month, definitely not every day. The Hybrid Working Pilot is one of the most inefficient ways to enable everyone to be in one room, should the need arise every now and then,” the group explained.

In the letter, the group also listed a number of reasons as to why they find the return-to-site policy unacceptable.

The first reason cited by employees is their disagreement about what the company perceives as “Serendipity.” According to employees, a return to site policy cannot produce Serendipity because employees representing different departments within the company are kept apart. This siloed setup is claimed by employees to still being maintained by Apple even on the online platform Slack.

The employees are also resisting the in-person collaboration which, according to the Apple memo, will be enhanced with the employees regularly reporting onsite. The employees claim that while this may be true, it is also something that they do not need on a daily or even weekly basis.

Third, employees criticize the policy’s lack of flexibility in terms of time management and inconvenience for employees commuting to and from the office, which is why employees claim that the policy will benefit those who are younger and more physically mobile, those who live near Apple offices, and those who have more physical and mental resources to spend.

The biggest opposition to the hybrid work requirement is that it runs counter to Apple’s products and customers, according to the employees.

“We tell all of our customers how great our products are for remote work, yet, we ourselves, cannot use them to work remotely? How can we expect our customers to take that seriously?” the employees write in their letter.

This open letter from Apple employees comes at a time when the traditional notion of in-office work is already being challenged in general. Companies that require a return to work rules at the site face moral issues and criticism from their employees, who are now more open to working remotely.

David Lewis, CEO of Operations Inc, a Connecticut-based human resources consulting firm, said that companies that demand a full return to office policy – or dictate how employees should work remotely – risk losing top talent who are now encouraged to quit if their requirements are not met. In North America and other parts of the world, this was observed in 2021 in a phenomenon that analysts now call “the Great Resignation,” which continues to this day.

“Employee surveys show that nearly 40 percent of workers would quit their jobs if they were prohibited from continuing to work remotely, but in companies with employees or knowledge-based workers, between a third and 60 percent have an office presence or something similar, either part-time or full-time,” Lewis said.

The Apple Together group, which also has a Twitter account and a website that publishes its complaints, is said to be made up of current and former Apple employees.

 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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