At Google and Apple, Rising Anger About Remote Work. Is This a Trend?

At some of tech’s biggest companies, tensions around remote and hybrid work could be on the rise. Many employees want to work from home permanently, without taking any kind of pay cut—while executives want their teams back in the physical office as much as possible. How will it end?

A new article in CNet describes Google employees as “angry” over the search engine giant’s remote-work policies. Although Google CEO Sundar Pichai has instituted a “hybrid” work policy that allows the Google workforce to do their jobs from home for a portion of the week, that’s apparently not enough for a subset of employees. “This feeling that I can’t realistically leave the Bay Area and work for Google is enough for me to have decided to leave,” one site reliability engineer told the publication. “It’s the fact that Google doesn’t prioritize the needs of human beings. The fact that we have lives outside of work, that people actually have families.”

Compounding the issue is the ease with which some senior Google executives have been granted the ability to work from wherever they want, including New Zealand. Many of those employees who do manage to secure permanent remote-work privileges may also see their salaries slashed, with the amount of decrease determined by a custom-built internal tool

Google isn’t alone in weathering this controversy, of course. Various other tech giants, including Facebook and VMware, have announced that any employees deciding to move from Silicon Valley will see a lighter paycheck as a result. For technologists who have spent the past 15 months working from home without any issues, the idea of a pay cut is annoying at best and intensely demoralizing at worst.

Then you have Apple, which is strictly enforcing a hybrid work model for its workforce. A subset of the company’s employees recently sent a letter to CEO Tim Cook, asking him to allow permanent remote work: “Many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.” Instead of bowing to those employees’ demands, though, the company re-emphasized that hybrid work was the way of its future (with a few exceptions that reportedly require executive sign-off). 

Repeated surveys have found that the majority of technologists actually like the idea of hybrid work. In Dice’s 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report, some 85 percent of technologists found the prospect of hybrid work anywhere from somewhat to extremely desirable. That included 94 percent of younger technologists (i.e., those between 18 and 34 years old), who clearly see the physical office as an opportunity for collaboration and mentorship opportunities. Other Dice surveys have found that technologists generally aren’t willing to take a pay cut for remote work—and only 12 percent have said their companies are slashing pay in exchange for permanent work-from-home

Whatever happens at companies such as Google and Apple, it’s clear that many technologists are okay with a hybrid workweek. But if a company does opt to offer all-remote work, they should think carefully about whether to cut salaries—that’s clearly an unpopular move. 

3 Responses to “At Google and Apple, Rising Anger About Remote Work. Is This a Trend?”

  1. Jake_Leone

    Executives don’t care, they have the money to buy homes that within a few miles of Google’s, Facebook’s, or Apple’s bay area campuses. And many of those same execs, signed off on expensive office buildings in the Bay Area. So they’ll do anything to keep the egg off their faces and the blame off their shoulders.

    For most of us in Software, there is absolutely no difference between coming in and being at home, Except:

    We are not stuck in traffic on 101, 680, or 880 freeways to 6 hours a day.

    And as a result, our brains are suffocated by car fumes.

    Our legs and back are not aching and stiff.

    Our eyes get a huge break from having to stare, for hours, at the car ahead of us.

    Yeah, and there is a lot less pollution and Green House gas production from the Bay Area.

    Working from home is efficient and Green 2 things executives don’t really understand or will ever consider over their own selfish need to justify past bad decisions and the need to have some head count to justify their existence.

    No, they are wrong, and they will never admit it. The cramped sardine can offices that they had built don’t actually improve productivity, they are nothing but a dog and pony show so executives can point to something they did in order to get a bonus.

  2. Gino Debenedetto

    Agree Jake and I feel there is also the executives ego as an aspect of it where some executives need to be able to see their headcount. They like to be able to be in the office and say “I am in charge of XXXX number of staff” for their own egos and be able to look at their employees with the “I am your alpha” gleam in their eyes. I also laugh at the grand idea several years ago of the open office design that was “the future” where most organizations abandoned employee cubicles with high privacy walls all in the name of open collaboration and to remove the “silos”?!? I bet with COVID and all its current and upcoming variants, they are kicking themselves on all that money they wasted on the office redesign and wish they’d kept the high wall cubicles.

  3. chandra mohan Ramalingam

    My thoughts , as this is the real impact to the employee coming office by having more time on the roads with traffic and returning back.
    on the organisation view point , they want their team to join from the offices to make a great collaborative work culture back again. Seems to be the good move.
    But this the new change of delivering the tasks from employees with the flaw less delivery is not a great issue can also be achieved from home. Indifferent, the organisations plan for the pay reduce to bring back their workforce who preforming the not impacted delivery by the WFH way, a very strange decision of the organisations if it is get implemented. More work force may think about leaving the organisation.
    The new normal will get the change in near future. what will be the thought of the employees on the future normal days a great question. Wishing the both ends to get more fruitful results is my wish for the great future. Thanks