Apple to adopt hybrid work model despite worker pleas for more flexibility

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 30
Apple will move forward with plans to hold in-office work hours starting in September despite some employees' pleas for a more flexible arrangement.

Apple Park


Apple SVP of retail and people Deirdre O'Brien, addressing employees in an internal video viewed by The Verge on Tuesday, said the company will adopt a hybrid work model announced earlier this month.

"We believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future," O'Brien said. "If we take a moment to reflect on our unbelievable product launches this past year, the products and the launch execution were built upon the base of years of work that we did when we were all together in-person."

In early June, CEO Tim Cook in a note to employees said the company would return to office work for at least three days a week starting in September. While there would be a few exceptions, most staff are expected to be in the office on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, leaving Wednesday and Friday as optional work from home days. Further, employees can remote in for up to two weeks a year, pending approval from management.

Members of corporate teams that require face-to-face time were asked to come in for four to five days a week.

Days later, a group of roughly 2,800 employees penned a long-winded response, saying there was "growing concern" about the proposed hybrid work schedule. The group, which claimed that an unspecified number of staff members were forced to quit due to Apple's new work policy, made a number of formal requests pushing for remote work over in-person attendance.

In the letter, Apple employees said working from home delivers five key benefits: diversity and inclusion in retention and hiring; tearing down previously existing communication barriers; better work life balance; better integration of existing remote / location-flexible workers; and reduced spread of pathogens.

"For many of us at Apple, we have succeeded not despite working from home, but in large part because of being able to work outside the office."

It appears that Apple has denied the group's requests, saying future decisions related to the matter will be made "on a case-by-case basis with any new remote positions requiring executive approval," today's report said.

Cook and other senior executives have maintained that remote work is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. The company has long believed that employee commingling is a vital ingredient to innovation, so much so that late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs helped design Apple Park's main building -- effectively a large ring -- to facilitate serendipitous encounters.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    XedXed Posts: 1,110member
    That sounds like a pretty nice setup to me.
    headfull0wine
  • Reply 2 of 33
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,059member
    I have a feeling the hammer will eventually fall at my company, and I too will be reluctant. 
    .
    I’m holding out for two days a week at most, but… we’ll see.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 33
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,245member
    LOL. Apple didn’t spend $5b on its new HQ to have everyone work from home 😉
    pulseimagesseanjpichaeldee_deemike1dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 33
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,052member
    Pleased, and surprised, to see that Apple leadership possesses a keen awareness of the value of in-person collaboration versus remote. I had begun to wonder.

    I paid homage The Ring at the Apple Park Visitor Center last week and spoke with several fruit stand employees who said that Apple was now actively incentivizing employees to return to work on campus.  They did not specify what those incentives were, but said that the company was struggling to convince a good number of employees to return to in-person work.

    As I have said before, remote work may be acceptable for some types of jobs.  But those who choose remote work shouldn’t be surprised if they find their careers have stalled a few years from now.
    pichaelpumpkin_kingmike1
  • Reply 5 of 33
    seanjseanj Posts: 265member
    JWSC said:
    As I have said before, remote work may be acceptable for some types of jobs.  But those who choose remote work shouldn’t be surprised if they find their careers have stalled a few years from now.
    Stalled in companies with incompetent management. There’s long been a case of poor managers, more concerned with “presenteeism” than productivity. For the bad manager measuring the hours you’re in the office is easier than measuring the quantity and quality of work you do. If you work for such a company your career will stall anyway because talent is neither recognised or rewarded. 
    muthuk_vanalingamemig647dysamoriaelijahgjcs2305
  • Reply 6 of 33
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,823member
    Employees are going to get a little reality check about who calls the shots.

    Those who’d rather stay home will have plenty of time to do just that when they’re looking for another job.
    pichaelmike1JWSCsdw2001macxpresssedicivalvole
  • Reply 7 of 33
    seanjseanj Posts: 265member
    sflocal said:
    Employees are going to get a little reality check about who calls the shots.

    Those who’d rather stay home will have plenty of time to do just that when they’re looking for another job.
    That won’t be difficult for them. The tech sector suffered at the start of the pandemic with a lot of start-ups going under. But since roughly October, the technology and engineering sectors have exploded in sales and are having difficulty recruiting enough staff. 
    Industry sees the pandemic as a period of disruption that potentially allows market incumbents to be challenged. As a result, research in R&D for new products is at an all time high.
    elijahg
  • Reply 8 of 33
    I have a feeling the hammer will eventually fall at my company, and I too will be reluctant. 
    .
    I’m holding out for two days a week at most, but… we’ll see.
    Where many companies have adopted a "we'll allow a 'work from home' scenario on a case by case basis", my company has adopted a policy where working at the office requires company approval.  There are some people, a minority, who are not especially happy about that.  They consider they're more productive in a face to face environment, so they feel that making everyone else adjust to their needs is the best plan.  I expect those people to be leaving the company when they don't get their way.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,883member
    Work isn’t a democracy. The boss sets the plan up, the workers follow it. If you don’t like it, quit. 

    My work hours will be hybrid in the fall. I rather not drive in but I’ll live with it. 
  • Reply 10 of 33
    iadlibiadlib Posts: 84member
    At least do M-W office and Th-F home. Splitting it up seems dystopian and a control tactic. They’re gonna lose employees either way. 
  • Reply 11 of 33
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 78member
    sflocal said:
    Employees are going to get a little reality check about who calls the shots.

    Those who’d rather stay home will have plenty of time to do just that when they’re looking for another job.
    They will have no problem finding another job.  The rest of FANG have all rolled out work from home solutions.  It will be interesting if this affects retention. 
    beowulfschmidtchemengin1elijahg
  • Reply 12 of 33
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 78member
    jungmark said:
    Work isn’t a democracy. The boss sets the plan up, the workers follow it. If you don’t like it, quit. 

    My work hours will be hybrid in the fall. I rather not drive in but I’ll live with it. 
    I don’t think you are fully aware of the shortage of software engineers there currently are. 
    beowulfschmidtelijahg
  • Reply 13 of 33
    dee_deedee_dee Posts: 78member
    hentaiboy said:
    LOL. Apple didn’t spend $5b on its new HQ to have everyone work from home 😉
    Apple can always use the Spaceship for marketing material, shooting their product launch videos and their hardware, advertising teams.  As for software engineers, the horse has left the barn and it’s only a matter of time for Apple to figure that out. 
    muthuk_vanalingamchemengin1elijahg
  • Reply 14 of 33
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,808member
    seanj said:
    JWSC said:
    As I have said before, remote work may be acceptable for some types of jobs.  But those who choose remote work shouldn’t be surprised if they find their careers have stalled a few years from now.
    Stalled in companies with incompetent management. There’s long been a case of poor managers, more concerned with “presenteeism” than productivity. For the bad manager measuring the hours you’re in the office is easier than measuring the quantity and quality of work you do. If you work for such a company your career will stall anyway because talent is neither recognised or rewarded. 
    That's a complete over simplification. I agree that there may be some jobs where working in isolation remotely may not hinder or may even improve productivity. However, there are many jobs, industries and tasks where it is better to engage face-to-face rather than over a video call. Can't hold a prototype over Zoom. Can't ever get answers when team members are not together. Has nothing to do with attendance taking and everything to do with timely discussions and decision making. Having the ability and flexibility to work remotely in case of emergencies or other occasional needs is great, but that does not mean that it is the right thing every day for every company, department, job function or employee.
    headfull0wineJWSCstompyFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 33
    I think their model is more than fair. I especially like the two weeks a year of full remote work for those life circumstances that come up. 
    It would be near impossible for Apple to maintain their level of innovation long term with a fully remote workforce. Like someone else said, you can’t mull over a prototype on Zoom. 
    JWSCtmay
  • Reply 16 of 33
    Good.  Be glad you have a job and get back to the office.  The entitlement some have.  
    mike1JWSC
  • Reply 17 of 33
    dee_dee said:
    hentaiboy said:
    LOL. Apple didn’t spend $5b on its new HQ to have everyone work from home 😉
    Apple can always use the Spaceship for marketing material, shooting their product launch videos and their hardware, advertising teams.  As for software engineers, the horse has left the barn and it’s only a matter of time for Apple to figure that out. 

    And so is your job if you don’t come back.  Cya

    JWSC
  • Reply 18 of 33
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,622moderator
    hentaiboy said:
    LOL. Apple didn’t spend $5b on its new HQ to have everyone work from home 😉
    Many of Apple's employees don't work in the new HQ. Only the chosen ones get to work in the spaceship.



    Tens of thousands of employees still work in their more traditional office space:



    Apparently some employees didn't like the spaceship:

    https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/apple-employees-hate-apples-5-billion-open-plan-o.html

    The hybrid working model that Apple offers is fair and they said they would assess it on a case-by-case basis. Collaborative work spaces is something Steve Jobs was really into and they described it at the Pixar offices:

    https://officesnapshots.com/2012/07/16/pixar-headquarters-and-the-legacy-of-steve-jobs/
    https://www.wired.com/2011/10/the-steve-jobs-approach-to-teamwork/
    https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/steve-jobs-technology-alone-is-not-enough

    "Pixar’s campus design originally separated different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But because Jobs was fanatic about these unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place, and his design included a great atrium space that acts as a central hub for the campus.

    The biography adds that Jobs believed that, “If a building doesn’t encourage [collaboration], you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”

    The atrium houses a reception, employee mailboxes, cafe, foosball, fitness center, two 40-seat viewing rooms, and a large theater – and was planned by Jobs to house the campus’ only restrooms. The idea was that people who naturally isolate themselves would be forced to have great conversations, even if that took place while washing their hands. Today, they do have more than one restroom, of course. But it was the idea behind it that was important.

    Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, said of the space, “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space…But Steve realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.”

    And did it work? “Steve’s theory worked from day one,” said John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer “…I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”

    ---

    "In November 2000, Jobs purchased an abandoned Del Monte canning factory on sixteen acres in Emeryille, just north of Oakland. The original architectural plan called for three buildings, with separate offices for the computer scientists, animators and Pixar executives. Jobs immediately scrapped it. (“We used to joke that the building was Steve’s movie,” Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar, told me last year.)

    Instead of three buildings, there was going to be a single vast space, with an airy atrium at its center. “The philosophy behind this design is that it’s good to put the most important function at the heart of the building,” Catmull said. “Well, what’s our most important function? It’s the interaction of our employees. That’s why Steve put a big empty space there. He wanted to create an open area for people to always be talking to each other.”

    Jobs, however, realized that it wasn’t enough to simply create a space: He needed to make people go there.

    As he saw it, the main challenge for Pixar was getting its different cultures to work together, forcing the computer geeks and cartoonists to collaborate. (John Lasseter, the chief creative office at Pixar, describes the equation this way: “Technology inspires art, and art challenges the technology.”) In typical fashion, Jobs saw this as a design problem.

    He began with the mailboxes, which he shifted to the atrium. Then, he moved the meeting rooms to the center of the building, followed by the cafeteria and coffee bar and gift shop. But that still wasn’t enough; Jobs insisted that the architects locate the only set of bathrooms in the atrium. (He was later forced to compromise on this detail.) In a 2008 conversation, Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, said, “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space...But Steve realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.”

    ​That emphasis on consilience, even if it came at the expense of convenience, has always been a defining trait of Steve Jobs. In an age of intellectual fragmentation, Jobs insisted that the best creations occurred when people from disparate fields were connected together, when our distinct ways of seeing the world were brought to bear on a singular problem. It's what happens when a calligrapher designs a computer font and when an animator strikes up a conversation with a programmer at the bathroom sink. The Latin crest of Pixar University says it all: Alienus Non Diutius. Alone no longer."
    emig647JWSCtmayFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 19 of 33
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 862member
    Most professionals work from home -- that's what we do after we come home from the office. You need to be at the office to see clients, and collaborate with colleagues. The "water-cooler" is often the best place to sync with others.

    The biggest problem with the office is getting there and back. For most, the commute is the bane of office work. 
    muthuk_vanalingammike1
  • Reply 20 of 33
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,440member
    sflocal said:
    Employees are going to get a little reality check about who calls the shots.

    Those who’d rather stay home will have plenty of time to do just that when they’re looking for another job.
    Those who work at Apple will have no trouble finding other jobs if remote is what they desire. Tech companies are throwing insane amounts of money at engineers right now. Talent is not easy to acquire and there is so much competition. The smart ones are offering options with remote only along with these offers. We have had countless no-shows once candidates make it to the "onsite" portions of the interview process because they already have three offers in hand. Just got done paying off someone's entire four year sign on bonus from a previous employer so we wouldn't miss out.
    muthuk_vanalingamelijahgFileMakerFeller
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