Some Apple staff call for flexibility in return-to-office pilot
BENGALURU: Apple’s return-to-office policy hasn’t gone down well with a section of employees. They have addressed six reasons why the hybrid working pilot doesn’t capture the spirit of flexible work. Apple is bringing back employees to office three days a week from May 23. In an open letter published by a group called Apple Together addressed to the executive team on what they think of office-bound work, they said.
“We wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on the return to office so that you may better understand why we do not believe in the Hybrid Working pilot. You have characterised the decision for the Hybrid Working Pilot as being about combining the “need to commune in-person” and the value of flexible work. But in reality, it does not recognise flexible work and is only driven by fear. Fear of the future of work, fear of worker autonomy, fear of losing control. Let us explain.”
The footnote said Apple employees are invited to join Discord servers which, they said, is like Slack but are not controlled by Apple allowing employees to share their concerns openly. “In your first email titled “Returning to our Offices”, you talk about “the serendipity that comes from bumping into colleagues” when everyone is in the same place. Except we are not all in one place. We don’t have just one office, we have many. And often, our functional organizations have their own office buildings, in which employees from other orgs cannot work. This siloed structure is part of our culture.”
The letter said Slack has made this much easier over the past two years. “Yet, you choose to keep us all in separate siloed Slack workspaces and try to prevent us from talking to each other, so software engineers don’t accidentally talk to AppleCare employees, and retail staff don’t accidentally meet hardware engineers.
Over the last year, you have even made it impossible to create shared community spaces where serendipity could have happened, online and remotely.” An email sent by TOI to Apple about the anonymous employee group’s letter to the executive team didn’t elicit a response till the time of going to the press. The letter addressed the issue around three fixed days in office and the two WFH days broken apart by an office day, is almost no flexibility at all. Even less so for the orgs who have to be in the office for four or five days.
“We are not asking for everyone to be forced to work from home. We are asking to decide for ourselves, together with our teams and direct manager, what kind of arrangement works best for each one of us, be that in an office, work from home, or a hybrid approach. Stop treating us like school kids who need to be told when to be where and what homework to do.” The group said,” In the original ‘Returning to our offices’ email, Tim (Cook) said “We’d make sure Apple delivered on its promises to its customers regardless of the circumstances”.
“It’s true, we delivered on our promises and continue to do so. We were incredibly flexible and resilient and found new ways to do our work, despite not being able to go to an office in many cases.” They have asked the executive team to show some flexibility and let go of rigid policies of the Hybrid Working Pilot.
“Stop trying to control how often you can see us in the office. Trust us, we know how each of our small contributions helps Apple succeed and what’s required to do so. Our direct managers trust us and in many cases would happily let us work in a more flexible setup. And why wouldn’t they, we’ve successfully done so for the last two years. Why don’t you?”