Like many employers dreaming of better times, Apple wants its workers back at their office desks, clacking away at keyboards all the live-long day (where they can be watched over with the hawk-like eyes of middle management). Workers, on the other hand, don’t see much nostalgia from that time, and don’t see much or any reason to go back.
The Financial Times reported Monday that Apple workers have been circulating an internal petition arguing that employees have demonstrated “exceptional work” under their existing work-from-home and flexible work schedules.
The petition references Apple CEO Tim Cook making it known he wants most employees back roaming the halls of their Cupertino headquarters offices at least three days a week by Sept. 5. As if to flavor that demand with a tinge of threat, “Tim Apple’s” sounding the horn to get staff back to the office also came with reported layoffs of around 100 contract-based recruiters, according to Bloomberg. The layoffs did not impact full time employees.
That August memo said employees would have to be in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus one other day that’s determined by the individual team leaders. In response, the petition writers threw apple’s slogan “think different” back at the company, saying that flexible work would allow them to truly be comfortable enough to innovate in ways the company wants to.
The petition was reportedly inked by an internal group of disgruntled workers called Apple Together, which wrote that the “uniform mandate” doesn’t account for workers who are “happier and more productive” when they’re able to do their tasks from the comfort of home. An unnamed member of Apple Together further told the Financial Times they weren’t giving out their names in the petition nor to reporters to protect themselves against retaliation. Apple has been accused of union busting activities by workers in some retail stores.
Apple had previously signaled they were moving toward this mandated three-day in-office work week, going all the way back into 2021. The company delayed the return-to-office push back in May amid a rise of covid cases. Under these upcoming rules, workers will reportedly still need to don masks in common areas.
Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Employees are not nearly as keen as their boss to leave the creature comforts of working at home. FT reported the internal Apple Slack channel “Remote Work Advocacy” has more than 10,000 people. The company has seen big-name departures partly due to Apple’s insistence that its workers plant their butts at their office desks most days of the week, including former head of machine learning Ian Goodfellow.
Goodfellow took his bat and ball over to Alphabet, which so far has been much more open to employees working from home. Apple’s oldest major competitor Microsoft also has a much more flexible WFH policy. Though as major tech companies suffer losses heading into the second half of 2022, companies like Alphabet-owned Google want “better results, faster.” No matter where you are, it seems, the stresses of ever-expanding expectations will find you.