Revolt at Apple against the imposed return to the office

A group calling itself Apple Together has published an open letter to the group’s leaders asking them to change the company’s policy of requiring workers to be in the office at least three days a week.

Gritting of teeth at Apple where a group of employees protests against the company’s policy forcing them to return to the office three days a week. The group, which calls itself Apple Together, released an open letter to executives criticizing the company’s hybrid work pilot program, calling it rigid. Among other grievances, the anonymous letter calls the company’s requirement that employees spend three days in the office as showing “almost no flexibility.” “Working in the office is a concept of the last century, before the ubiquitous internet capable of making video calls and everyone being on the same internal chat application,” the letter says.

“But the future is in connecting when it makes sense, with people who have a relevant contribution, wherever they are. We are now asking you, the leadership team, to show a little flexibility and let go of the rigid policies of the hybrid working pilot project. Stop trying to control how often you can see us in the office,” the group wrote. “Trust us, we know how each of our small contributions helps Apple succeed and what it takes to get there.”

Two divergent visions of work

The letter, which begins by expressing the employees’ dedication to a company they “dreamed of one day joining,” follows with a statement that their “vision of the future of work is increasingly diverging from that of the management team”. “We clearly see the benefits of collaboration in physics, the creative process facilitated by communication between two people in the same room and not limited by technology,” the band said.

“But for many of us, it’s not something we need every week, often not even every month, and certainly not every day. The hybrid work pilot is one of the most inefficient ways to get everyone together in one room, if the need arises from time to time. »

A questioning of diversity

Apple Together lists six key areas where the company’s hybrid work plan will hurt employee morale, inclusion and diversity. The letter was first reported earlier this week by news site iMore, which caters to Apple followers. According to the missive, the three-day-a-week tenure in the office will change the composition of Apple’s workforce, making it younger, whiter and more masculine, and favor “those who can work for Apple, not those that suit them best”.

Privileges like “being born in the right place so you don’t have to move”, “being young enough to start a new life in another city or country”, or “having a stay-at-home spouse who will move with you”, can we read in the missive. In a memo to staff in March, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees they should be back in the office at least one day a week starting April 11. The memo went on to outline a plan to increase work in the office to two days a week from May 2, and to three days in the office – Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays – from May 23.

A policy followed by other firms

The group of Apple employees, which also created a twitter account and a webpage to air grievances, says it includes current and former Apple employees. The webpage calls Apple a “culture of secrecy [qui] creates an opaque and intimidating fortress”. “When we demand accountability and reparations for the persistent injustices we witness or experience in our workplace, we face a pattern of isolation, degradation and illumination,” the page reads. web.

Apple isn’t the only company asking for the hybrid workforce to be back in the office a certain number of days a week. Citigroup, BNY Mellon, Google and Twitter are among those also embracing hybrid working with days in the office – although Twitter has told employees they can continue to work remotely, even if offices are open . By the end of the current quarter in June, most companies will have opened most of their work sites, according to a survey by research firm Gartner published in March.

Leaving one’s job during a period of full employment

When companies were asked what flexible working options they offered to attract and retain talent, nearly one in five (18%) said none, according to Gartner’s survey of 300 companies. Sectors studied included IT and telecommunications, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, fuels and energy, construction and real estate, and transportation and shipping, among others. 3 out of 5 companies responding to the survey said they have set a minimum number of working days on site, for example, employees must come to the office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But even these options can pose problems with employee retention.

“In this time of full employment and a shortage of many workers, employees have the option of leaving if you make them unhappy,” said Jack Gold, principal analyst at research firm J. Gold Associates. “So unlike in the past, where companies had the ability to dictate and make employees take it or leave it, it’s much less possible in IT these days.” David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc, an HR consulting firm in Connecticut, said in an interview that companies that dictate a full-time return to the office — or how employees should work remotely — are missing the whole. Mr. Lewis pointed out that the unemployment rate in the United States is 3.6% and that there are currently more than 11 million job openings. If employees are pushed hard enough, they will take the door, he said.

Faced with 100% office, 40% of employees would leave their jobs

“There is an insatiable demand for candidates that exceeds the supply. You’re missing out on the fact that if your employees don’t want to come back to the office, they have a choice,” said David Lewis, referring to the phenomenon of the great resignation. “They have options, and they use them.” OperationsInc claims to have more than 1,000 clients whom it advises on HR matters and tracking work-related data. “I have been a very focused student on everything that has happened in terms of the workplace […] during my 36-year career in human resources management. During the Covid-19 period, in particular, I have seen headlines from various companies…, “Come back to the office. And if you don’t, you should look for another job,’ Mr Lewis said.

Employee surveys have shown that as many as 40% would leave their jobs if they were not allowed to work remotely. Yet among companies that employ executives or engineers, between 33% and 60% require office presence in some form, whether part-time or full-time, Lewis said. “A significant percentage of people are trying to return their workplace to what they considered normal before Covid,” he said. This will not please many collaborators, he adds. There is a balance to be struck between what the employer thinks they need to maintain the company culture and a collaborative experience, and what the employees want. “It’s a very tricky area, which differs between companies and employees, but it’s definitely an issue these days,” Gold said.

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