Apple Employees Revolt After CEO Tim Cook Asks Them to Return to Office

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Apple employees are pushing back against the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, who told them that they need to return to their offices for at least three days a week starting in early September.

In a letter to the company, obtained by the Verge, staff members said they “had to learn how to deliver the same quality of products and services that Apple is known for, all while working almost completely remotely” during the “unprecedented challenge” they faced amid the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

“We did so, achieving another record-setting year,” the employees added. “We found a way for everyone to support each other and succeed in a completely new way of working together — from locations we were able to choose at our own discretion.”

The Apple staff members went on to say that “without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we 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.”

“This is a decision none of us take lightly, and a decision many would prefer not to have to make,” they said.

The employees also lamented Apple sending them messages like, “We know many of you are eager to reconnect in person with your colleagues back in the office,” during the pandemic, while ignoring the possibility that the company’s staffers might have “directly contradictory feelings” about the concept.

“Not only do many of us already feel well-connected with our colleagues worldwide, but better-connected now than ever,” the employees said. “We’ve come to look forward to working as we are now, without the daily need to return to the office.”

“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,” they added.

Staffers went on to insist that they did not succeed at Apple “despite working from home,” but rather, “in large part because of being able to work outside the office.”

In fact, the employees claimed that “last year has felt like we have truly been able to do the best work of our lives for the first time, unconstrained by the challenges that daily commutes to offices.”

Therefore, the staff members are “formally requesting that Apple considers remote and location-flexible work decisions to be as autonomous for a team to decide as are hiring decisions.”

“We are formally requesting a company-wide recurring short survey with a clearly structured and transparent communication/feedback process at the company-wide level, organization-wide level, and team-wide level, covering topics listed below,” they continued.

Among their requests, the employees also call on Apple to look into “the environmental impact of returning to onsite in-person work, and how permanent remote-and-location-flexibility could offset that impact.”

“We have great respect for Apple and its leadership; we strongly believe in the Innovation and Thinking Differently (from ‘the way things have always been done’ and ‘industry standards’) that are part of Apple’s DNA,” the staffers wrote.

“At Apple, our most important resource, our soul, is our people, and we believe that ensuring we are all heard, represented, and validated is how we continue to defend and protect that precious sentiment,” they concluded.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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