Apple Park photo of the side of the main buildingSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • A CNET report says Silicon Valley's "workaholic culture" is "buckling" under the strain of coronavirus.
  • It has highlighted some of the challenges companies like Apple face.
  • Some Apple employees told the outlet they felt overworked and didn't have much leeway when it came to childcare.

A CNET report has highlighted Silicon Valley's work from home struggle, suggesting employees at companies like Apple are struggling to cope.

The report notes:

For some companies, self-quarantine for the public good has meant finding new ways to collaborate while navigating spotty internet connections, video conferencing etiquette, new apps and even newer security woes. That's a no-brainer for Silicon Valley, where companies build apps and technologies to help power services used by hundreds of millions of people each day.

But with schools and day care centers closed around the country, tech companies, from Apple to Facebook to Google to LinkedIn to Uber, are facing a more challenging test: family. Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in a March conference call with the press that caring for his two young daughters at home with his wife, Priscilla, a pediatrician, is "a big change."

The nonstop 24-hour work culture that led many tech companies to hire high-end chefs for free food cafeterias, offer onsite car oil changes and, in some cases, do free dry cleaning is running up against the realities of child care and other family care in self-quarantine at home. The unspoken agreement that all those benefits came in exchange for long and grueling work hours is falling apart at home.

The report notes how nearly all of the big tech companies based in California face the prospect that schools will not reopen until the fall. Specifically, regarding Apple the report states:

Employees at Apple and Uber who spoke to me also said they felt overworked without much leeway to take care of kids. And they aren't alone.

Speaking about companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook, Creative Strategies' Carolina Milanesi said: "For people who have a family, you feel that you have to operate as if you don't."

In response to these challenges, the report notes that Apple has "increased communications with managers and employees" since the start of the outbreak, encouraging employees to ask for help or accommodation. Managers are also being told to "proactively help employees too", by offering flexibility, especially for parents and caregivers. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said:

"No deadline is too important, and no priority is more urgent, than caring for our loved ones. Our goal is to be flexible, collaborative and accommodating of every parent and caregiver on our teams... This is a trying time for everyone — especially parents — and we want to do all we can to support every member of our Apple family."

A recent report suggested that despite working from home restrictions, Apple was still working on a new MacBook Prok, HomePod and more, with employees forced to work privately in their homes, keeping their work, items and documents confidential.