Apple workers criticize company's return-to-office plan

'Office-bound work is a technology from the last century… the future is about connecting when it makes sense'

Apple workers criticize company's return-to-office plan

Apple employees are calling on executives to rethink their company’s return-to-office strategy.

“Office-bound work is a technology from the last century, from the era before ubiquitous video-call-capable internet and everyone being on the same internal chat application. But the future is about connecting when it makes sense, with people who have relevant input, no matter where they are based,” they say in a letter addressed to the company’s executive team.

The workers say that Apple claims a return to the office will bring back “the serendipity that comes from bumping into colleagues”, but this is not feasible simply because not all workers will be in one place. In fact, functional organizations have their own office buildings wherein employees from other organizations cannot work.

While many organizations around the world are busy bringing back workers into the workplace after two long years of COVID isolation, stress levels are an issue among employees.

Also, while the workers see the benefits of in-person collaboration, it’s not needed every week, they say: “What is also required for creativity and excellent work for many of us is time for deep thought. But being in an office often does not enable this, especially not many of our newer offices, with their open floor plans, which make it hard to concentrate on anything for an extended amount of time.”

They also claim that Apple is not providing them with the flexibility they need by requiring them to be in the office three fixed days and to work from home twice a week. Workers also say that commuting to the office is a waste time.

In April, Best Buy Canada decided it is moving towards a remote-first work approach for all corporate employees. Back in July 2021, Deloitte Canada said it was giving employees the flexibility to choose where, when and how they work.

Requiring everyone to relocate to the office their team happens to be based in, with the three-days-in-the-office setup, will make the company “younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied,” say the Apple employees.

“In short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit.”

Workers also believe that they can achieve collaboration in much better ways than by simply returning to the office.

However, many workers in the U.S. are warming up to the idea of returning to the physical workplace.

Apple started its “hybrid work pilot” on Feb. 1. Under the pilot, workers gradually returned to the office over one month, starting with one or two days per week. In March, this schedule increased to in-person work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

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