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Apple employees openly criticize management over work from home policy

today2022.05.09. 5607 5

Background

Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress

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Some employers such as Apple, believe that returning back to the office will result in increased collaboration, employee engagement, and productivity. However employees believe that the new policy will not bring in any “serendipity” that comes as a result of bumping into workmates when everyone is working in one place.

A group of Apple employees is not happy with management’s decision to return back to the office and only work from home for just two days.  In an open letter that was shared with Executive management, the Apple employees were not shy to express their displeasure with the work from home policy.1

 In March 2022, Apple announced that corporate employees were supposed to return to the office.2 They were also supposed to work for a minimum of two days a week by the 2nd of May 2022 and then shift to a three-working day a week hybrid model. Tim Cook who is the CEO of Apple believes that in-person collaboration has “irreplaceable benefits”. He called on employees to embrace coming back to the office and that the company will offer flexibility and support during the transition. 3

The group of unhappy employees who have decided to call themselves Apple Together, think differently. They believe that Apple’s new model will result in younger more male-dominated, whiter, and more neuro-normative organisation. The employees believe that the policy is exclusionary as it means that young people are more likely to relocate to cities where there are offices are situated. They argue that the current setup, “… will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit.” 1

The employees also believe that the new policy will not bring in any “serendipity” that comes as a result of bumping into workmates when everyone is working in one place. They indicate that not all Apple employees work in one place. They also believe that digital tools such as slack are bringing in a better collaboration than in-person working. 

The employees are advocating that Apple should allow employees to decide on their own together with their teams and direct manager on what works best for them. “We are not asking for everyone to be forced to work from home. We are asking to decide for ourselves, together with our teams and direct manager…” the employees said in the letter. 

Despite such criticism from some of its employees, Apple maintains that they promote a culture of inclusivity and diversity. 4In a recent Tweet, Apple CEO, Tim Cook said, “At Apple, we know how it is important it is to build and maintain a culture where everyone belongs. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made to create a more inclusive workforce and we are committed to doing more. 5

Apple CEO, Tim Cook said on Twitter

Issues of returning back to the offices have been topical over the past few months because of the decline in COVID 19 cases and increase in vaccination numbers. A study by Microsoft indicate 50% of leaders are saying that their companies already require or are planning to make return to in-person work fulltime in the coming year. 6The same research report also indicates that 52% of employees are thinking of switching to full-time hybrid 7or remote 8job in 2022. 

Hybrid working has brought in a number of benefits such as offering flexibility and cost savings. 9 Employees prefer hybrid working to in-person working full-time. 76% of employees who have offices that are already open have indicated that the major reason for wanting to work remotely is the working style. Under remote working, employees often decide on when to work and how they work. The environment is generally much more open than an office set up which is controlled. 10

Employers on the other end want employees to return to the office. Some employers such as Apple, believe that returning back to the office will result in increased collaboration, employee engagement, and productivity. Employers also fear that working from home is said to likely reduce communication, teamwork, and creativity as revealed by a study from Microsoft.11

Other companies which have asked their employees to return to the office include, Google, Twitter and Citigroup. Most of these companies are proposing a hybrid model where employees have time to work at the office and time to work from home. On the other hand, Airbnb has told its staff that they can work from home forever. 

1Thoughts on office-bound work, by Apple Together

https://appletogether.org/hotnews/thoughts-on-office-bound-work

2Apple sets April 11 Return-to-work deadline for Corporate Staff, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-04/apple-sets-april-11-return-to-work-deadline-for-corporate-staff

3Apple CEO Tim Cook tells employees the return to offices will begin on April 11th ,  by Kim Lyons

https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/4/22961592/apple-april-11-return-office-corporate-pandemic-tim-cook

4 Inclusion and diversity, by Apple, Apple

https://www.apple.com/diversity/

5Inclusion and diversity, by Tim Cook, Twitter

https://twitter.com/tim_cook

6Work Trend Index 2022. Making Hybrid Work Work, by Microsoft WorkLab, Microsoft

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/great-expectations-making-hybrid-work-work

7Optimizing training for a hybrid workforce, by Graham Glass, HR Congress

https://hr-congress.com/2022/02/10/optimizing-training-for-a-hybrid-workforce/

8Do you know where your work from home employees are, by Lisbeth Claus, HR Congress

https://hr-congress.com/2022/03/18/do-you-know-where-your-work-from-home-employees-are-2/

9It’s no longer about the virus – remote workers simply don’t want to return to the office, by Madison Hoff

10It’s no longer about the virus- remote simply don’t want to return to the office, by Madison Hoff, World Economic Forum

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/02/its-no-longer-about-the-virus-remote-workers-simply-dont-want-to-return-to-the-office/

11The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers, by Longqi Yang, David Holtz, Sonia Jaffe, Siddharth Suri, Shilpi Sinha, Jefferey Weston, Connor Joyce, Neha Shah, Kevin Sherman, Brent Hecht and Jamie Teevan, Nature Human Behaviour

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01196-4.pdf

Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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