Apple loses its director of machine learning over its hybrid working plans

Apple Park photo of the side of the main building
Apple Park photo of the side of the main building (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has lost its director of machine learning over its return to work plans.
  • Apple's new hybrid work plan will begin on May 23.
  • People will be required to work at Apple Park three days per week.

Apple has reportedly lost a high-profile team member over its new hybrid working policy that will require people to work at Apple Park three days per week.

From May 23 Apple will require Apple Par-based employees to work in the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. They can work from home on Wednesday and Friday, but some believe that's too restrictive at a time when people have gotten used to the benefits of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, a tweet by The Verge reporter Zoë Schiffer points to Ian Goodfellow's plan to leave the company over the hybrid working system. Goodfellow was director of machine learning and told staff that he believes that a more flexible work system would have been beneficial to his team.

Goodfellow isn't alone in feeling that Apple's new work policy is restrictive. The company was recently slammed for its plans in an open letter that called for people to be given the option to work from wherever suits them and their teams best.

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.

While Apple isn't the only company to require that people work from the office, others including Google — Goodfellow's previous employer — do allow people to work entirely from home, although that depends on their role and its requirements.

The hybrid work program put together by Apple is clearly an emotive one and it will be very interesting to see whether it kicks off a brain drain the likes of which it could struggle to recover from at a time where working from home is table stakes for many potential employees.

As much as Apple is keen to get people back into the office, their working from home didn't stop it from releasing iPhone 13 last year, the device that is accepted to be the best iPhone ever made. The same goes for the recent spate of top-notch Apple silicon-powered Macs, too.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.