Apple employees blast return-to-office plans in leaked internal letter

“It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple’s employees.”

What you need to know

  • A leaked internal letter suggests some Apple employees are not happy about the company’s plan to bring workers back to its offices.
  • Workers told Tim Cook and Apple’s executive leadership they felt they had been “not just unheard, but at times actively ignored” over the last year.
  • The letter includes a formal request for remote and flexible working options, a survey, and more.

An internal letter sent by Apple employees to Tim Cook and the company’s executive leadership team suggests not everyone in Cupertino is happy with plans to bring them back to the office.

From The Verge:

Apple employees are pushing back against a new policy that would require them to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Staff members say they want a flexible approach where those who want to work remote can do so, according to an internal letter obtained by The Verge.

The letter reportedly comes from a group of around 80 Apple employees and was sent out to colleagues for signature on late Friday afternoon. Last week Apple informed its employees of plans to have them return to the office for at least three days a week from September.

The letter shared in the report states that there is “a growing concern among our colleagues” that Apple’s remote working policy and surrounding communication has “already forced some of our colleagues to quit”, and that employees feel they 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.”

More generally it states “Over the last year we often felt not just unheard, but at times actively ignored”, with claims that some of Apple’s messaging leaves no room for “directly contradictory feelings amongst us feels dismissive and invalidating”.

The letter says that some employees feel that “we have truly been able to do the best work of our lives for the first time.” It includes a formal request “that Apple considers remote and location-flexible work decisions to be as autonomous for a team to decide as are hiring decisions”, along with calls for a survey on the topic, and a plan of action for accomodating disabilities and scrutiny of the environmental impact of returning to work on-site.

The letter concludes “This is not a petition, though it may resemble one. This is a plea: let’s work together to truly welcome everyone forward.”

The report also states that there is now an internal Slack channel at Apple call ‘remote work advocates’ which has garnered some 2,800 members.

The notions within the letter have been met with some skepticism, notably from Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart and John Gruber at Daring Fireball. From the latter:

And who are these people who took jobs at Apple not knowing the company’s on-site culture? Do they think Apple built a new $4 billion campus on a lark? Three days a week on site and two days remote is a huge change for Apple.

Given that these letters keep leaking to Zoe Schiffer at The Verge, I can’t help but think that the problem for Apple is that they’ve grown so large that they’ve wound up hiring a lot of people who aren’t a good fit for Apple

Gruber goes on to say that he believes it was a mistake for Apple to establish a company-wide Slack before stating “Companies are not democracies, but the employees writing these letters sure seem to think Apple is one. It’s not, and if it were, the company would sink in a snap.” Over on Twitter Gruber claimed “there are a lot of recently leaked letters that express views that are not widespread within Apple”.

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