Over the past few days Tim Cook had communicated Apple’s plans for a “return to normal” after the smart working regime made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has established a hybrid regime consisting of three days a week compulsory in attendance for most employees, however employees soon demonstrated their disappointment through a collective letter. The demand for greater flexibility is for those who prefer to work remotely on a more regular basis.
Apple is heading for a return to normal, but some employees are not there
The internal letter from Apple employees was published in its entirety by The Verge. The text reads that the employees have heard “ignored, rather than not listened to” regarding the considerations on face-to-face work as opposed to remote work in recent months, and that some of them have even chosen dismissal in the absence of a more flexible working method. Below is a significant excerpt from the letter from Apple employees:
“We would like to take this opportunity to communicate a growing concern among our colleagues. Apple’s new policy on flexible remote or location-based flexible working and communication around it has already forced some of our colleagues to drop out. Inclusiveness that brings flexibility, many of us feel we have to choose between a combination of our families, our well-being and being allowed to do our jobs best, or be part of Apple.
Over the past year we have often felt not only unheard, but at times ignored. Messages such as ‘we know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with colleagues in the office’, without any messages acknowledging that there are directly contradictory feelings between us making us feel helpless. Not only do many of us already feel well connected with our colleagues around the world, but we are now more connected than ever. We require you to work with the same regimes as today, without having to go back to the office on a daily basis. There seems to be a lack of link between how the management team views flexible, remote working and the lived experiences of many Apple employees. “
The letter addressed directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook and was first broadcast in a Slack channel that has about 2,800 members and which includes “remote work supporters” among Apple employees. The drafting of the note was carried out by about 80 people among them, with the letter being sent Friday to all Apple employees for a possible signature in support of the words written in the text.
Apple’s specific requests are summarized in five main points, which we translate below:
- We formally ask that Apple consider flexible or remote working decisions to be made independently by each team, as are hiring decisions.
- We formally request a short recurring survey at company, organization and team level, with structured and transparent communication regarding the topics indicated below
- We formally ask that you add a question about abandonment due to remote work in severance surveys
- We formally ask for a transparent and clear action plan to address the inconveniences of on-site, off-site, remote, hybrid or otherwise flexible work
- We formally ask for information on the environmental impact of returning to work in person and on how permanent flexibility can compensate for this impact
According to Apple’s plans made official in recent days, most of the company’s employees will have to go to the appropriate offices on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, while they will be able to work remotely (if they wish) on Wednesday and Friday. Some divisions will be required to return to work face-to-face four or five days a week. This is a much more traditional approach than Apple had previously adopted for remote work but, as the note published by TheVerge indicates, some employees want the company to consider their needs more. Whether Cook and other Apple executives are receptive to this new employee letter or whether they will remain in their recently formalized position remains to be seen.