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Employees Push Back on Apple’s Hybrid Work Model

On June 2, 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent a letter to employees laying out plans for a hybrid return-to-work model. The company asked employees to return to the office starting in September on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Teams requiring in-person work will return to the office four to five days a week. Additionally, Apple employees may work remotely for up to two weeks per year “to be closer to family and loved ones, find a change of scenery, manage unexpected travel, or a different reason all your own.” This last option is subject to manager approval.

Employees were quick to push back just two days later in a letter of their own. Asking for a flexible approach, the employees stated, “Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, 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.” Approximately 2800 employees participated in a Slack channel dedicated to “remote work advocates.” Eighty of those employees participated in writing and editing the letter asserting that Apple’s new policy had already caused some employees to quit. The employees tied remote work to the company’s intention to move DEI efforts forward: “For inclusion and diversity work, we recognize how different we all are, and with those differences, come different needs and different ways to thrive.” The letter outlines the employees’ requests and suggested action items.

Apple’s plan is conservative in comparison to other large tech firms. Both Twitter and Facebook have indicated employees can work from home forever. Google announced it expects 20% of its workforce to work remotely once its office reopens, with 60% of its employees on-site for a few days a week. Apple framed its hybrid work model as a pilot and expects to re-evaluate it at the end of 2022.