An internal letter from Apple shows that employees are still struggling to work from home


Technical companies like Apple have been some of the first to allowing their corporate employees to work from home at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, tensions are rising for when and if these employees will return to the office.

In a new letter, some Apple employees demand that the company allow employees to work from home full-time, with some restrictions. Apple has only agreed to let employees work from home two days a week, with limited exceptions. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is the second letter of petition within two months of Apple employees writing about the most flexible working conditions, and it’s a sign of continued general discord in the company. It’s a surprising departure from Apple’s traditionally hierarchical work culture.

The petition describes two different “pilot arrangements” that allow employees to work from home full-time for at least a year, without promise to be extended. These provisions will give employees the opportunity to work away from home five days a week – including in a place other than the area in which they are hired to work – with the approval of their director or department head. , and in some cases, a cost-adaptation of life compensation. The letter was posted Monday morning to an internal Apple channel employee Slack to discuss the work remotely; the channel has more than 6,000 members and is open to all Apple corporate employees.

Other Silicon Valley tech giants like it Google and Facebook have offered more flexibility to their employees, allowing workers in good standing to apply to work from home full-time, even if the details of those plans are still in place. Amazon too backtracked on plans to ask corporate staff to return to full-time office following an employee reaction. But Apple (which, unlike Google and Facebook, is primarily a hardware company that manufactures physical goods) has insisted that it needs most office workers to manage its notoriously secretive business. Management’s resistance to changing its work-from-home policy has caused open frustration among Apple’s traditional workforce in the head, and reflects greater tensions among white workers in the United States as their employers begin to call them back to the office in person.

“We continue to be concerned that this unique solution will all cause many of our colleagues to question their future at Apple,” says the letter, which continues, “With COVID-19 numbers growing again around the world, vaccines that are proving less effective against the Delta variant, and the long-term effects of the infection are not well understood, it is too early to force those who have concerns to return to office. ”

The letter cites an internal employee survey that found that 68 percent of respondents – for a total of more than 1,100 employees – strongly agree that Apple’s “lack of location flexibility.” it will probably make them leave Apple. ”

In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out a note saying employees needed to return to the office at least three days a week starting in September. Many Apple employees – some of whom had already permanently left the Bay Area during the pandemic or had medical concerns about returning to office – have responded to this decision, with more than 1,700 Apple employees signing a letter of protest. , as well as The Verge reported for the first time. Management is committed to listening to employee concerns. But just two weeks later, company executives sent out a video announcing it it did not change its original position, with Apple Vice President Deirdre O’Brien saying “we believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”

In recent weeks, Apple’s human resources team (which calls its People team) has listened to employees ’personal stories about why they wanted to work from home. Sources told Recode that Apple employees with disabilities, single parents, or those who are already permanently removed from office were among those who were most negatively affected by the mandate to return to office.

“However, it has been disappointing to see these personal stories not recognized individually or by any policy change,” the letter says.

Ultimately, the letter argues that the risks of the proposed policy changes to Apple’s business are “minimal, while its potential benefits are enormous.”

Apple employees transmitting their complaints about how the company is run – even internally – is a relatively new phenomenon. Unlike Google or even Facebook, Apple doesn’t have much of a history of employee debate over controversial issues. The windows seem to have opened with a reaction to the hiring of Antonio Garcia Martinez, an engineering director who first wrote what many considered sexist comments about women. Martinez was fired from the company shortly after employees posted a petition calling for an investigation into his hiring.

The big question ahead is how Apple’s management will respond to this ongoing wave of activism in its workforce and whether it will listen to the concerns of its employees, or whether it will resent dissidents like other companies like Google have. .


The full text of the letter is below (emphasis added):

Dear Tim, Deirdre, and Team,

Thank you for all the work you and the team do to keep Apple’s culture so rich, vibrant and inclusive! We especially appreciate the efforts of the People’s team over the last few weeks to understand our personal situations. However, it was disappointing to see these personal stories not recognized individually or by any policy change. We continue to be concerned that this one-size-fits-all solution is causing many of our colleagues to question their future at Apple. About 68% of respondents to our informal survey somewhat or strongly agree that the lack of flexibility of location could make them leave Apple; they are more than 1100 members of our Apple family, and we care about each of them.

With COVID-19 numbers rising again in the world, vaccines proving less effective against the Delta variant, and the long-term effects of the infection are not well understood, it is too early to force those who have concerns about returning to office. On the other hand, allowing some greater flexibility than the current 3/2 program will allow us to truly validate whether certain people who work remotely, not just all those who work occasionally from home, are compatible with Apple’s collaborative culture. .

We propose the following adaptations to the Flexible Working Agreement (FWA) and to the Distance Working Agreement (TRWA) to form part of the Hybrid work driver. These new arrangements would be limited to one year cun no promise to be extended.

Local WFH Temporary Pilot Agreement:

This proposal is intended to accommodate employees who work better from home – or who do not feel comfortable in the office while the pandemic is still under control – allowing them to continue working from home unless the needs arise. particularly of his role required him to be in office.

  • Mandatory: Direct director approval.
  • The default place of work is at home, but the employee will always have an assigned clerk in the office.
  • The WFH location must be at a commutable distance from the employer’s assigned office.
  • A fixed WFH / in-office schedule may be part of this agreement at the manager’s discretion.

Remote WFH Temporary Pilot Agreement

This proposal is intended to accommodate employees whose life situations are not compatible, or have become incompatible, with travel to an Apple office.

  • Required: Approval of the head of department.
  • The default workplace is the permanent address; employee will be no have an assigned clerk in the office.
  • Employee compensation can be adjusted based on the situation, as well as for permanent employees at a distance.

We believe that these two proposals are essential to make the Hybrid Work Pilot a success. Together, ensuring that the Pilot embraces the full range of in-office and non-office work arrangements, allows us to retain many of our colleagues, who have expressed a desire for situational flexibility in their current roles, and allows them to ‘individuals and teams to respond more quickly to changing regional conditions of COVID-19 without relying on previous guidance across society. We hope you agree that the risks of these appropriate policies are minimal while their potential benefits are huge and look forward to hearing your thoughts.


The undersigned

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