“We are not asking for everyone to be forced to work from home,” the letter continues. “We are asking to decide for ourselves, together with our teams and direct manager, what kind of work arrangement works best for each one of us, be that in an office, work from home, or a hybrid approach.” Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter and did not respond to an earlier request for comment on its return-to-work plans.
Some Apple employees are objecting to the company’s return to work pilot programme, which will eventually compel most of its staff to work at least three days each week. Employees are asking leadership for more flexibility, organising under the name Apple Together, a newly created group that lobbies for workers’ well-being and rights. They also point out a misalignment between the company’s external marketing to clients, which claims that its products enable users to “work from anywhere,” and its internal messaging to employees. “How can we comprehend what challenges of remote work need to be solved in our products if we don’t live it?” asks an open letter to Apple’s leadership, which was published on the company’s website on Friday.
Apple’s hybrid return pilot initially drew backlash in June 2021 after it was outlined to staffers, but Apple, like most companies, pushed back the rollout as a result of new Covid-19 variants in the fall and winter. Following the delays, Apple began its phased approach to getting workers back into the office, beginning with once a week at the beginning of April before upping to twice a week more recently. The company outlined its most recent timeline for employees in an email, the text of which was published by The Verge.
It spells out specific reasons they’re taking issue with the pilot, ranging from forcing workers to unnecessarily commute — “a huge waste of time as well as both mental and physical resources” — to what they see as an inevitable impact on diversity. “Apple will likely always find people willing to work here, but … being in the office at least 3 fixed days of the week … will make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied, in short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit,” the letter added.
Friday’s letter, which calls the pilot a “step back in flexibility for many of our teams,” comes in anticipation of the last phase of Apple’s pilot, which is slated to go into effect at the end of May, where workers will be expected in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.