Doubt cast on report regarding Apple's return to work drive

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A recent report suggested that Apple was planning to start phasing the return of its workers to Apple Park.
  • A new report has cast doubt on this.
  • John Gruber at Daring Fireball says that actually, the opposite may be true.

A report from John Gruber at Daring Fireball has cast doubt on a recent report about Apple's plan to begin returning employees to work at Apple Park.

Earlier this week, a Bloomberg report noted that Apple plans to begin phasing employees back to work over the course of the next few months. The introduction to the article noted:

Apple Inc. plans to soon start returning more employees to its major global offices while other tech companies are continuing work-from-home policies through at least the end of 2020 due to Covid-19.

A new Daring Fireball report paints a different picture, however:

The narrative thrust of this story, emphasized by the "in break from rivals" clause in the headline, is that Apple is somehow pushing harder to bring employees back to its offices than Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.I call b******t. This narrative conveys the opposite of what's going on at Apple. "There is no there there," said one Apple manager I spoke with.

According to Gruber, he "spent the day asking folks at Apple what's going on" and states:

and this just doesn't seem to be the case. If you closely read the reported facts in Bloomberg's report — put aside the headline and the lede, and just read the facts and the quotes from sources — what's being alleged is only that Apple is different from Amazon/Google/Facebook/Twitter in that more of Apple's business is the creation of hardware, and many aspects of hardware development can't be done remotely.

Whilst Gruber notes that managers are indeed engaged in planning employees return to work, the only people who seem to be lined up to come back to Apple Park are exclusively those who can't work from home, or can't do all of their jobs from home. Something he says is no different from any other large tech company, such as Amazon, Google, Facebook or Twitter.

Gruber also says that a Bloomberg report that the "second phase" of worker returns being scheduled for July is also incorrect:

As for a second phase being "scheduled" to begin in July, all of the sources I spoke with say otherwise. There is no schedule. July would be a theoretically possible but highly optimistic start, yes, but the schedule is being set by the virus, not by Apple. "There is no real timeline associated with phases 2 or 3 yet," one source told me. And, from what I've been told, managers are under no pressure whatsoever to get members of their teams into phases 1 or 2.

Gruber actually states that "if anything, the opposite - managers are encouraging those who can continue working from home to do so, for their safety and peace of mind."

One source reportedly stated that Apple Park wouldn't return to anything other than "a goddamn ghost town". Furthermore, Gruber states that it is not managers informing employees they will be returning, but rather the other way round. Managers are being told to listen to employees and to make decisions collaboratively with their employees.

You can read the full report here.

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