With COVID-19 lockdowns over and restrictions lifted, many companies have encouraged employees to return to work from the office or have adopted a hybrid work policy. In Apple’s case it was the latter although its staff was less than thrilled. In fact, one of Apple’s most esteemed directors left because of it.
Ian Goodfellow, Apple’s director of machine learning, left the company disgruntled by its inflexible working policy. “I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” he wrote in a note to staff.
From May 23rd, Apple will require employees to work from the office three days a week. After adapting to work-from-home however, many are reluctant to return to the office.
Besides Goodfellow, there’s a group of employees called “Apple Together” which have written letters to management arguing why the move was a bad one.
On one hand, the daily commute, “a huge waste of time as well as both mental and physical resources.” Then, the unnecessary team meetings in person when Slack is more convenient and Apple’s office structure doesn’t really help matters.
But the argument that tried to “seal the deal” was Apple’s own communication approach. The company is marketing its products as great for remote work but prohibits its employees to do exactly that:
“We tell all of our customers how great our products are for remote work, yet, we ourselves, cannot use them to work remotely? How can we expect our customers to take that seriously? How can we understand what problems of remote work need solving in our products if we don’t live it?”
Will Apple revise their policy in light of these events? We’ll be following closely to see what the company decides. Meanwhile, they also have to deal with complaints regarding hostile working conditions and a possible union on the rise.
If even Apple has issues bringing employees back to the office, it’s clear that more companies have to really think about how to implement the hybrid work model permanently.