Some Apple Employees Pushing Back Against Return to Office Plans

Some Apple employees are still pushing back on the company’s latest attempt to bring its workforce back to the office.

Earlier this month, leaked internal emails suggested Apple would bring employees back to the office for three days per week starting in September. Although all employees would be expected at their office desks on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the choice of the third day would be left up to individual teams.

“We are excited to move forward with the pilot and believe that this revised framework will enhance our ability to work flexibly, while preserving the in-person collaboration that is so essential to our culture. We also know that we still have a lot to learn,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in an email, according to The Verge. “And we are committed to listening, adapting, and growing together in the weeks and months ahead.”

Cook’s move seemed like a response to earlier employee grumbling about Apple’s return-to-office plans. A May 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

But at least a few Apple employees don’t seem to like the new policy, either. Last week, this group started a petition asking for even more flexibility, including all-remote work; nearly 1,000 people have signed it so far. “Those asking for more flexible arrangements have many compelling reasons and circumstances: from disabilities (visible or not); family care; safety, health, and environmental concerns; financial considerations; to just plain being happier and more productive,” the petition stated.

After more than two years of effectively working from home, many workers are asking why they need to go back to an office at all. Haven’t they proven they can do even the most complicated, mission-critical jobs from the comfort of their couches? But many executives throughout the tech industry are concerned about morale, team cohesion, and company culture—and they see in-person work as necessary for all those things.

Fortunately, many companies also appear willing to give technologists the flexibility they crave. The latest edition of Stack Overflow’s annual Developer Salary crunched data from 58,958 respondents worldwide and found that around 42 percent were fully remote, while another 42 percent were hybrid. Meanwhile, only 14 percent were fully in-office. “Smaller organizations are most likely to be in-person, with 20 percent of 2-19 employee organizations in-person,” that report added. “The largest organizations, with 10k employees, are most likely to be hybrid.”

For Apple, a very office-centric company, this push for more flexibility could present something of a conundrum. Its resulting policies could have a sizable impact on its retention.