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Apple Employees Push Back Against Returning to Working in the Office




Apple employees are pushing back against a looming deadline to return to work in the office on Sept. 5, 2022. Employee-based Apple Together circulated a petition asking for more flexibility around remote work. Tim Cook consistently highlighted the importance of in-person collaboration to the company’s business and success.

The petition says that the secrecy culture makes chance moments of inspiration impossible and that employees are happier and more productive with a more flexible setup. It’s the latest in a series of attempts by Apple to adopt home working after COVID-19.

Apple’s new working standard has already seen a tweak after pushback from the original plan, which was to implement office work on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Now, the order is for Tuesday, and Thursday, with the third day set by the employee and their manager. Ian Goodfellow, the director of machine learning at Apple, resigned in search of more flexible work. As a result, apple Together has become a powerful voice inside a company previously famed for its secrecy culture.

Tim Cook ordered his staff to work Tuesdays, Thursdays, and a third day to be determined by individual teams in September. Cook stated that this would enhance the flexible work capability while preserving the in-person collaboration that is crucial to their culture.

Consequence of Apple Return to Office Policy


Courtesy of Gabriel Saldana (Flickr CC0)

But a group of workers named Apple Together has disseminated a plea to push back against the orders, saying that greater flexibility would promote diversity within the company. At least one high-level employee has jumped ship due to the policy.

Unlike other technology companies such as Twitter and Facebook, which provided permanent work-from-home privileges during the pandemic, Apple has maintained its position that it expected employees to return to in-person work long term.

The company’s Insider reports that Goodfellow has resigned because of the reinstatement of the return-to-work policy in Cupertino, California. Before his time, Goodfellow was a senior staff research scientist at Google. Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), which put two competing neural networks against each other to improve system accuracy, were his idea.

Goodfellow’s resignation is due to Apple’s return to office policy, which requires employees to be at work at least three days a week, stated Blind, an unspecified professional social platform. An Apple staff member cited Goodfellow in an interview that he is leaving Apple because of the return to office policy.

Although Apple keeps saying there is no office space in the Bay Area, including Cupertino, higher-up management pushes to hire new employees in other cities, such as Seattle or San Diego, to spread the workforce. So, it keeps moving with the RTO when there is not enough office space, and teams are dispersed. It could lose even more top talent because of its policy.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Engadget: Apple employees launch petition to protest return-to-office plans; by D. Cooper
NBC News: Apple workers launch petition over company’s reported return-to-office plan; by Chantal Da Silva
HRD: Apple exec departs over return-to-office policy; by John Corrigan

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Gabriel Saldana’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image courtesy of Stuart Maxwell’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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