Apple Hybrid Work Policy Drives High-Profile Departure

Ian Goodfellow, a director of machine learning at Apple, has resigned over the company’s hybrid-work policy. It’s yet another sign of how technologists are pushing hard for schedules (whether hybrid or all-remote) that work for them. 

According to Zoe Schiffer, a reporter at The Verge, Goodfellow was “likely [Apple’s] most cited [machine learning] expert.” In a note to staff, he reportedly said: “I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team.”

Over the past few months, Apple employees have grumbled about the company’s plans to gradually bring them back to the office. A recent survey by Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists on a range of issues, found that 76 percent of (site-verified) Apple employees were dissatisfied with the company’s hybrid and return-to-office strategy.“[Sixty percent] of my team doesn’t even live near the office. They are not returning,” a verified Apple employee mentioned on a Blind discussion forum.

By the end of April, Apple employees were expected back in the office two days per week; by the end of May, that will rise to three days per week (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). “For many of you, I know that returning to the office represents a long-awaited milestone and a positive sign that we can engage more fully with the colleagues who play such an important role in our lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a recent email, according to The Verge. “For others, it may also be an unsettling change. I want you to know that we are deeply committed to giving you the support and flexibility that you need in this next phase.” 

Apple isn’t the only company facing pushback from technologists over the details of hybrid- and remote-work policies. Over at Google, some employees are reportedly upset at the lack of flexibility over which days they must come into the office.  

The pandemic has left technologists everywhere wanting hybrid and remote work— Dice’s 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report found that 85 percent of technologists thought the prospect of hybrid work was anywhere from somewhat to extremely desirable. However, it’s also increasingly clear that many technologists also want the ability to determine their schedules to a granular degree; according to a recent survey by Limeade, a lack of flexibility had driven 20 percent of employees out the door at their previous jobs. Managers and executives interested in retaining their talent need to pay attention to what their teams want out of their schedules.