Apple slammed over working from home policy in employee open letter

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 is facing staunch criticism from employees over its work-from-home policy.
  • A group known as Apple Together is angry about the company's return to working in the office.
  • They say it will make Apple "younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, [and] more able-bodied."

A group of Apple employees has penned an angry letter to the company's executive team over its office-bound work policy that doesn't let them work remotely for more than two days a week.

The new posting from Apple Together states:

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 characterized 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 recognize 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 group says that Apple's argument about "the serendipity that comes from bumping into colleagues" is false because of Apple's siloed office structure, which makes it impossible to bump into colleagues, and that the intentional communication of remote tools like Slack are much better for communication and collaboration.

The employees further state that the need for in-person collaboration is not a daily or even a weekly need, with some not even needing it every month:

The Hybrid Working Pilot is one of the most inefficient ways to enable everyone to be in one room, should the need arise every now and then.

The letter says that Apple's open-plan offices make it hard to do creative and excellent work because it is hard to concentrate, and says that Apple's hybrid model offers "almost no flexibility at all" to employees and states:

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 letter further slams the drain on mental and physical resources that comes from commuting, and says that a fixed three day office week will "make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied, in short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who'd be the best fit."

The group says the most important reason that the hybrid working pilot is bad, is because it sends a bad message to customers:

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?

The same irony was not lost in a March video posted by the company touting the benefits of remote working using devices like its best iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks for remote collaboration. The film told the story of a group called 'The Underdogs' who literally escape "from their evil boss's clutches."

The letter ends by invoking the late Steve Jobs with a quote of his:

Or as Steve said: "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." Here we are, the smart people that you hired, and we are telling you what to do: Please get out of our way, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, let us decide how we work best, and let us do the best work of our lives.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9