Apple employees ask for more flexible remote work options

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  • Reply 21 of 58
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference. 
    chadbagmontrosemacsmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 22 of 58
    AlgerAlger Posts: 28member
    sflocal said:
    Employees seem to think they're the ones in a position to demand.
    It is because of well-paid, highly-motivated workers that Apple has designed products and managed the lines' manufacturing logistics, marketing and distribution, to become such a massive success.  Corporate executives ignoring the new paradigm, of employees favoring remote-work, do so at their peril.  Speaking as a shareholder.
    canukstormmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 23 of 58
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 300member
    Rayz2016 said:
    They got to release day last month - and discovered no one had written the installer.  
    You say this as if it proves some sort of point. What makes you think the same exact oversight wouldn't have occurred if everyone was in the same office?
    firelock
  • Reply 24 of 58
    hmlongcohmlongco Posts: 300member
    swineone said:
    It's high time the leadership tells people to get with the program and do the work they get paid to do, rather than revolting against a new hire, demanding Apple take a position in middle eastern wars, and now complaining they have to return to work.
    I think the point is that they HAVE been working. And as I seem to recall, Apple has had several record-breaking quarters during that same period, so it's not as if productivity has suffered.

    Ultimately, it comes down to the  position. If you work in the industrial design lab, then yeah, it's a bit hard to work from home, separate from that $1.5 million CNC machine. OTOH, if you're on a software team... who cares?
    firelockcanukstormmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 25 of 58
    sirdirsirdir Posts: 129member
    Makes sense. Move somewhere cheaper and work from there… 
  • Reply 26 of 58
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,216member
    That letter is a toxic stew of dig whistles. As a share holder, I would hope Apple simply decided to cut shares with those 80 employees. 
    entropys
  • Reply 27 of 58
    firelockfirelock Posts: 220member
    I’ve got news for all of you who think that seeing “butts in chairs” is the best metric of productivity: It isn’t. If you don’t have a way of telling if someone is productive remotely, then you don’t have a way of telling if they are productive in the office. And monitoring when they log-in and how much time their computer is active is not a good way of determining this either. Instead, managers and supervisors should have clear goals, tasks and expectations for each employee that are  tracked in a project management system. If they achieve these metrics they are productive. If they don’t, then they aren’t. But what time they logged in on their computer and number of keystrokes recorded on their computer is irrelevant to this determination. In fact it puts a lot of undue pressure on employees to make sure that they are doing meaningless busy work so that keystrokes metric is met.

    I’ve been managing people for more than 30 years and some of the least productive people would always end up logging the most time on projects. Also, some of the most productive—and profitable—people spent the least time on a project. I had a designer who could create an amazing logo for pretty much any idea that you had in just a few hours. The fact that she only logged a few hours on a project didn’t make her less productive than another designer who spent all week working on an inferior idea. Whenever we are able to release people who we know are less productive, project hours go down dramatically and usually we are able to shorten the timelines. In other words, often the employees who logged the most hours were actually reducing efficiency rather than getting more done.

    Knowledge work is not the same as factory work. In a factory there is simple and fixed formula for how many widgets each employee can make an hour, therefore the more hours at work equals the more widgets made and the more profitable the company is. However, knowledge-based and creative work doesn’t work that way and never has. We have to get out of, as Seth Godin put it, “the factory mentality.” If a knowledge worker says that they can get more done and have a healthier work-life balance working remotely, then employers would be wise to listen to them.

    I don’t know who wrote this petition at Apple. Maybe they are just “whiny malcontents.” I will only observe what others have which is that companies that allow for greater remote work flexibility will have a competitive edge over those that don’t in the future. They will get the best job candidates and they will be able to have lower expenses due to their not building billion-dollar campuses that are really monuments to executive egos.
    dewmeelijahgcanukstormmontrosemacsLeftyLisaIreneWtemperormuthuk_vanalingamchemengin1
  • Reply 28 of 58
    swineoneswineone Posts: 47member
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference.

    You really have no idea what it is like to be a CEO, compared to what effectively is the IT equivalent of a construction worker. I guess I won’t waste any more words on this.

  • Reply 29 of 58
    swineoneswineone Posts: 47member
    hmlongco said:
    swineone said:
    It's high time the leadership tells people to get with the program and do the work they get paid to do, rather than revolting against a new hire, demanding Apple take a position in middle eastern wars, and now complaining they have to return to work.
    I think the point is that they HAVE been working. And as I seem to recall, Apple has had several record-breaking quarters during that same period, so it's not as if productivity has suffered.

    Ultimately, it comes down to the  position. If you work in the industrial design lab, then yeah, it's a bit hard to work from home, separate from that $1.5 million CNC machine. OTOH, if you're on a software team... who cares?
    There are many many jobs that require access to either specialized equipment or unreleased and thus ultra-highly-secret (under the Apple culture) devices. I can see many companies coming to terms with fully remote work, but Apple with its culture of secrecy is not one of them. The security division must be losing every single hair of the heads over the current situation and even more so with the prospect of these changes.

    Also: Apple would have had many record breaking quarters either way with people buying work from home equipment like crazy recently. Moreover, most of the hardware that Apple is releasing now was already designed by the time the pandemic hit, and was off to sort out manufacturing concerns at that point. The real test is what will come out next year, and the one after that.

    edited June 5
  • Reply 30 of 58
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,699member
    One challenge related to working from home that needs to be very seriously considered is information security (InfoSec). I'm sure that smart companies like Apple don't just send an engineer home with company owned computer laden with all kinds of highly confidential corporate information and IP and ask the employee to "Hey bub, try not to lose it." But the sad thing is that not all companies are smart, as we've been seeing with disastrous results over the past few months with ransom attacks and system hijacking.

    The InfoSec challenges can be mitigated somewhat by implementing the right kinds of security measures but they cannot be eliminated entirely. Moving from an environment where there is at least an illusion of the corporate offices being within a "protected citadel" to having half the employees taking assets that need to protected outside of the bunker walls every day is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be done with an extreme abundance of caution and with careful planning.

    When you look back at the most impactful security issues that have been encountered in the past decade or two, from microcode to cloud code, they all typically fall into a category of things that, when viewed through the lens of retrospection, make you ask "What the hell were they thinking to make such a stupid decision?" Unfortunately, the real and truthful answer is "They weren't thinking because it didn't seem like such a big deal at the time, it got the job done, and they had to ship the product on time."

    We're now deeply in the midst of exactly the same kind of "boneheaded move fertile environment" that will come under massive scrutiny and spawn countless WTF questions for the next decade or two. My gut feeling is that countless companies transitioned into the highly distributed, working from home, corporate assets running loose in the wild environment model with almost no upfront planning at all. They totally winged it, crossed their fingers, and hoped for the best. In the world of security this is somewhere between benign incompetence and total insanity. Could they escape unscathed? Sure, because a leopard seal can only devour so many penguins when it's awash in a penguin-rich environment. I sincerely hope that Apple isn't one of the big fat juicy penguins ripe for the next leopard seal's lunch.

    At the very least, companies that have decided to move forward with work from home or hybrid models should take a step back away from the panic mode that launched their workplace changes and take the time to make sure that whatever they do, they do it right from a security perspective. There is obviously some value in the citadel model. There is obviously some value in workplace flexibility. But now is not the time to be stupid by not considering all of the security consequences, with security being only one of many bottom line operational concerns. Security isn't a warm and fuzzy kumbaya perk to rally the troops, but companies that don't do security right won't be around to be "negotiating" with their employees whether they should be allowed to bring their dogs to work with them.



    mobird
  • Reply 31 of 58
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,265member
    swineone said:
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference.
    You really have no idea what it is like to be a CEO, compared to what effectively is the IT equivalent of a construction worker. I guess I won’t waste any more words on this.
    Apparently neither does Tim Cook.  A CEO is a role all about personal skills and interaction and they need to be visible, and in the office.  A software engineer does not.  Tim Cook saying all software engineers need to be in the office 3 days a week reeks of one-size-fits-all corporate think.
    chadbagfirelockmuthuk_vanalingamchemengin1
  • Reply 32 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,407member
    swineone said:
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference.

    You really have no idea what it is like to be a CEO, compared to what effectively is the IT equivalent of a construction worker. I guess I won’t waste any more words on this.

    Software engineers are not the IT equivalent of a construction worker. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 33 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,407member
    I can sympathize with the letter writers desires, and their “demands” were not even that unreasonable.  For example, they were not asking for a company wide one size fits all policy, but rather that each team or department be allowed to come up with its own policies, so that the differences between a software design team and a physical device design team that needs to physically work in person together with fancy design equipment  can be recognized.  

    And, as someone who who has worked remotely (as a sw engineer) the last 5 years, I appreciate the freedoms and life/work balance and everything else that comes, pro and con, with remote work (I live in a different state from the office I am assigned to — the company is not in a tech heavy corridor and realized that to get the talent they would have to hire outside their small Midwest city).  

    However, the way this was presented came across as whiny, entitled, social justice like, BS from a bunch of narcissistic millennials.  And a “weaponizing of Apple’s values” against Apple, as was previously mentioned in comments.  This sort of attitude and behavior is a cancer that should be excised. 

    There are much better ways to approach this sort of idea and request than whiny social justice like entitled rhetoric that divides and leave (most?) employees out of the conversation.   

    “Diversity is the way as long as you agree with me”
    edited June 5 dewmeJWSCentropysrob55
  • Reply 34 of 58
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,661member
    dee_dee said:
    sflocal said:
    Employees seem to think they're the ones in a position to demand.
    Well they are, and I new something like this would happen and called it in the previous article.  I’m pretty surprised the pushback came so soon.  

    95% of the companies I interviewed with over the past 3 months ALL offered 100% remote. Apple is going to have a hard time competing with that.  I’m sure they will counter with the same bullshit line “innovation requires working together in person” and other “intangible” benefits, but the horses have already left the barn. 
    Oh sure... because your case scenario applies to 100% of all business right?

    I can see it now at remote-Apple.  Let's do a zoom meeting to discuss the iPhone 14 and 15, show the product in the zoom call, for everyone to look at, and maybe someone will record the zoom meeting and forward the video to some Apple rumor site.

    Apple will have zero difficulty finding replacements.  I'm not even defending Apple.  It's the entire millennial demanding and expectations.  It's been said countless times over the decades.  Employees are replaceable, except to you because it doesn't suit your narrative.

    My personal experience.  When COVID shut down our company, a handful of us stayed, everyday in an empty building trying to figure out how to get hundreds of employees the ability to work remotely. Not just computers, but phone systems too.  We eventually did it.  The result?  Productivity of many of those remote workers took a nosedive.  They just weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing at the times they were supposed to be.  Quite a few of them were sloppy on sites like Facebook and Instagram where it was obvious they were out and about like they were on vacation, along with quotes like "I can't work on a day like this!  Thank you COVID lockdown!! lol! "  There was abuse.  Many returned back to the office - or mores, were expected to.

    Fire them you say?  Good luck doing that in California, along with the super-strict employee protection rules that were put in place that gave many employees even more ability to abuse the spirit of the law.

    Remote works for some, not for all.  How many companies comprise your "95%"?  What industry are those companies in?  I doubt your pool of companies really represent the diverse kinds of businesses that are out there, so excuse me if I take what you claim with a grain of salt.

    While remote working may be here to stay, I think many that got spoiled from the COVID at-home order are going to have some serious reality checks if they believe that they're in a position to demand from an employer the ability to work from home.  I think most employers will be like.. NEXT APPLICANT PLEASE!

    Just wait till those government at-home paychecks cease.
    JWSCentropys
  • Reply 35 of 58
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,221member
    swineone said:
    swineone said: "A lot of rank file or workers" (or is it you?) really have no idea what the life of a CEO is like.
    I was responding to a comment about the company needing to know whether or not an $180,000 a year software engineer was "spending the whole day in the bath". Unless you think it's logical to believe that $180,000 software engineers are inclined to be in the bath all the time rather than working when they're at home, I'm not sure what your point is. My point is that it's just as likely a high level exec could spend all day in the bath as the software engineer. Same difference. 
    A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Nor would a $180k software engineer. How is it any different?

    swineone said:
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference.


    You really have no idea what it is like to be a CEO, compared to what effectively is the IT equivalent of a construction worker. I guess I won’t waste any more words on this.
    Apparently nor do you. To use your analogy, a construction worker sitting in the bath all week would have no construction to show for their time. A software engineer sitting in the bath all week would have no code to show for their time. See?
    edited June 5 chadbagmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 36 of 58
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,513moderator
    swineone said: A CEO of a large company that spends all day in the bath wouldn’t last the first week, hell, perhaps not even the first day. Plus he wouldn’t ever get employed again in any high level position.
    Neither would a software engineer. Same difference. 
    Employees working in teams can more easily hide lower productivity as other employees can make up for it. The $180k software engineer mentioned earlier has a twitter feed with over 107,000 tweets over the past few years and has clearly been very active in recent weeks/months. If they are currently working from home, they sure must be spending a lot of that time on twitter and being paid for it.

    For all we know, Apple could be tracking this already and making these decisions based on it. It's problematic handling lowered productivity. They won't want to lose talented employees just because some aren't as productive working remotely.

    Of course the same can be applied to middle managers but giving everyone the opportunity to slack off is a recipe for disaster because a significant amount of people will do that, especially in job roles that don't have logged output. Software development is one of the easier roles to have remote as it is logged but roles like human resources, research and development are harder to keep track of.
    firelock said:
    I’ve got news for all of you who think that seeing “butts in chairs” is the best metric of productivity: It isn’t. If you don’t have a way of telling if someone is productive remotely, then you don’t have a way of telling if they are productive in the office. And monitoring when they log-in and how much time their computer is active is not a good way of determining this either. Instead, managers and supervisors should have clear goals, tasks and expectations for each employee that are  tracked in a project management system. If they achieve these metrics they are productive. If they don’t, then they aren’t.
    For sure working accountability has to evolve with ever changing job roles, there are people who can do the same tasks in half the time but part of how workplaces evolve is by getting to know how people work. If someone is super productive and gets their job done quickly, they can be promoted and handle a higher workload. When that visibility is taken away from employers, it will make it very difficult to know who is productive and who isn't, especially on teams with unequal workloads. It's harder to know who to promote into leadership roles when they aren't being tested against leadership qualities.

    It has been working out ok so far though, most companies haven't fallen apart over the past 12 months so some of this can work long-term. It works best with existing and trusted employees. On-boarding new employees is not so easy and there will be a rise in churn with people constantly moving between jobs, never being productive and this will increase distrust in remote employees. This is one reason it hasn't taken off before, companies have tried this over the years. Another part of the failure was not having infrastructure like widespread high speed internet for video chat, which is available now. With the better IT and adapted management techniques it can work better.

    I think most people would agree that having remote/flexible working as an option is a good thing. How these employees are presenting their views to their employer is less so. When they mention things like remote working is better for disabled or low income people, this is an example of weaponizing statements because people wouldn't disagree with that but what they are really saying is if the employer doesn't allow them (who aren't disabled or low income) to work from home, the company's reputation as a diverse and inclusive employer will take a hit.

    This is the attitude people have now all thanks to anti-social media where they all form their groups, sometimes in the millions to force what they want. It's destroying businesses and people's livelihoods in the process. Employees should be able to present concerns and ideas to their employers and come to an arrangement but this mob mentality of do what we say or we'll publicly tarnish you is a dangerous trend. The ad guy that was fired from Apple for example wasn't fired as a result of what he did but because of what a couple of thousand employees who were working remotely thought about what he did, which is a world of difference. None of them ever met the person, they are all remote. People now live on virtual media and play everything out in real life the same way like they are fighting virtual enemies in a game. There needs to be less of this totalitarian mentality and people need to learn to live with compromise.

    If Apple hasn't seen any productivity drops due to remote work then it makes sense for them to compromise on this to avoid good employees leaving for other companies but I suspect they have seen productivity drops in some areas and the only option is to bring those people into the office and they have every right to request this. Maybe they can handle it on an individual basis or have it as an employee perk after people have proven they can be trusted to work remotely.
    dewmefirelock
  • Reply 37 of 58
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,661member
    Alger said:
    sflocal said:
    Employees seem to think they're the ones in a position to demand.
    It is because of well-paid, highly-motivated workers that Apple has designed products and managed the lines' manufacturing logistics, marketing and distribution, to become such a massive success.  Corporate executives ignoring the new paradigm, of employees favoring remote-work, do so at their peril.  Speaking as a shareholder.
    No they don't.

    Employees favoring remote-work do so at THEIR own risk.  Again, employees are expendable.  If you don't want to go to the office, good luck to you.  This COVID event is temporary.  Sure, it has changed some things but only time will tell if it will result in permanent change.  What irks me are people that I know personally, quite a few... that are supposed to be working remotely, yet treat their work/home setup as some excuse to go on holiday, on company time and hope that laptop will travel.  Their social media posts is incriminating if their bosses find out.

    We just found out that during an employee of ours moved out of state and that resulted in a whole slew of red tape for our company in terms of sales tax nexus.  Screw that.  Management should fire that employee for the cost of all the red tape and hassles that employee is costing our company.

    What WILL happen is a remote employee will have to make a decision to either come back to the office - which they are paid to be at - or be replaced by someone else that will come into the office.  It will happen.  There is no "new paradigm".  It's a bump in the road.  Considering how my daily commute is has almost returned back to pre-COVID levels, I suspect you're in the minority.

    Good luck with that "new paradigm".  lol.
    JWSCtht
  • Reply 38 of 58
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 953member
    hmlongco said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    They got to release day last month - and discovered no one had written the installer.  
    You say this as if it proves some sort of point. What makes you think the same exact oversight wouldn't have occurred if everyone was in the same office?

    While perhaps not proving the point, we have seen a strong correlation between Zoom meetings substituting for in-person meetings and an increase in miscommunication and misunderstanding among team members.

    Remote work can be effective for those with rote and repetitive jobs where the task is clear and performance and output can easily be measured.  But it fails teams working on complex projects or products where communications and clarity are essential.

  • Reply 39 of 58
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,699member
    All of the productivity concerns are interesting to hear. At least from my experience over the past decade or so, since the adoption of Agile practices like Scrum and SAFe, hiding under performing team members would be very difficult because productivity is measured in terms of deliverables, not hours worked or effort expended. The granularity of status updates is also very fine grained so you would know very quickly if someone was falling behind or not meeting their commitments. On top of that, both team leaders and functional managers (in a matrix org) typically stay of top of how their individual team members are doing.

    Nowhere in the closed loop model for tracking project status towards deliverables are the questions "how many hours did you charge?" or "where did you perform your work?" The corporate accountants and people who manage the project budgets will certainly care about hours charged to projects, travel expenses, contractor charges, etc., but they aren't directly involved with productivity. 

    I've never worked on a project that did not involve multiple teams working at multiple locations, including locations around the globe with 12/13 hour time differences. It's really not a big deal as long as everyone is doing what they need to do and meeting their commitments. I still prefer to work in a beautiful office setting with all of the amenities and teammates and informal network of experts and alternate opinions available for a quick chat or whiteboard session. I also prefer to reserve my home as a safe and work free haven (with limited success if 10 PM stand-ups with Asian colleagues are factored into the equation). But that's just me and my wife has spent more than 20 years working exclusively from home and would prefer to keep it that way.

    Productivity has never been an issue when running projects with shared deliverables spread across 7 or 8 campuses in a half dozen different countries as long as you're setup to handle the logistics and have an efficient process. Yeah, there were some learning curves to climb, none worse than dealing with some of the older source code control systems (like Clearcase that didn't scale to widely distributed teams due to massive replication requirements and exclusive access) and the impact of slow connectivity in some regions.

    I have no doubt that organizations that set a goal to run with some level of a distributed workforce can do it effectively. They just have to do it right and adapt their processes without shortchanging anything, like security, employee engagement, and especially, communication and team connectedness. My concern today is that a lot of the things that were done in response to the pandemic are somewhat half baked and need to be revisited and refined. A lot of these things in the world of processes swing back and forth between extremes. If I were Apple I wouldn't be looking to lease out half of the spaceship or sell off smaller facilities any time soon in response to the WFH initiatives. Let's see where it lands once the novelty wears off and the compromises set in.


    edited June 5 chadbagJWSCIreneWmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 40 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,407member
    JWSC said:
    hmlongco said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    They got to release day last month - and discovered no one had written the installer.  
    You say this as if it proves some sort of point. What makes you think the same exact oversight wouldn't have occurred if everyone was in the same office?

    While perhaps not proving the point, we have seen a strong correlation between Zoom meetings substituting for in-person meetings and an increase in miscommunication and misunderstanding among team members.

    Remote work can be effective for those with rote and repetitive jobs where the task is clear and performance and output can easily be measured.  But it fails teams working on complex projects or products where communications and clarity are essential.

    Remote work is quite effective for teams working on complex projects.  The team I am on has been all remote over the last year anyway due to Covid but prior to that we had members at an office in India, an office in Canada, and an office in the US, plus me, who works elsewhere in the US. Plus we’d have invested people from other teams in our meetings at other US based offices or remote.  WebEx and Zoom meetings have never been a problem for us or other teams with similar spread of members.  

    It just takes respect for each other and commitment to the job to establish good norms of communication. 
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