Apple Hasn’t Given Up on Getting Employees Back in the Office

Posted on November 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple with 21 Comments

In an internal memo, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees that he now expects them back in the office by February 1, 2022.

“As of today, we are targeting February 1, 2022 to begin our hybrid work pilot in many global locations where teams have not yet returned to our corporate offices,” the email reads. “e plan to start the pilot with a phased approach, welcoming people back to the office for one or two days a week for an initial period of four weeks. After this transitional period, we will begin the pilot in full, with eligible teams in the office three days a week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and with [the] flexibility to work remotely on Wednesday and Friday. You’ll receive more details about how the first four-week phase will roll out as we get closer to the return date.”

As for those nervous about returning to the office, Mr. Cook points out that Apple’s retail workforce has been “welcoming customers and offering the personal care and service they have come to expect … we are confident in our protocols and our ability to ensure a thriving environment for everyone.”

And Cook is at least making some concessions for those who want to work more from home. Apple will expand the amount of time that most employees can work remotely each year from two weeks to four. This is in addition to the option of working remotely twice a week on Wednesday and Friday.

Cook also “strongly encourages” everyone who is able to get the vaccine to do so if it’s available to them. “We know that vaccination is the most important step we can take for our own health and the health of our communities, and is the best way to prevent the severity and spread of the virus,” he says.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (21)

21 responses to “Apple Hasn’t Given Up on Getting Employees Back in the Office”

  1. stevem

    Well, no doubt their offices cost them a fortune so they want them used. I wonder if they consider the environmental impact that getting their people to travel again will have; because Apple seem to have done ok with their people working remotely.

  2. ebraiter

    I work for a large multi-national. They informed us just last week to pick up our stuff from our offices and cubicles. Cubicles will be expanded to meet regulations but told not to come back unless required by job or a meeting [the later a day to day thing]. And I'm in an area where the cases are fairly low compared to most of the US.

  3. red.radar

    Apple is a hardware company. It is very difficult to work on Hardware remotely. Because your developing something physical, there becomes a point you have to lay hands on the device. Either to run a test, debug a result, make a modification or even to fabricate the prototype.


    I am sure they have a diverse set of job functions from those who can do their job remotely and those who can't. As a matter of equality, I think everyone should behave under a common set of policies. Otherwise animosity will set in. I have personally witnessed this effect. No one wants to help the software/firmware engineers because they got to spend the pandemic in their underwear in a cushy windowed home office. The number of times I heard...Oh wait Amazon is at the front door, on a conference call, or the sound of a nice destination in the background.... It doesn't help build team moral.


    To be honest, I get it.. its a nice perk to have flexibility but employers are going to have to figure out how to even out the inequality that is setting in. I like apple's approach. We all follow the same rules. The other approach is start altering peoples compensation, but that gets thorny and will make the matter worse.

  4. madthinus

    From a team perspective, working at the office for what we do and how we do it makes more sense. I understand the need to be in the same room, and companies to get people back to their offices.

    • Greg Green

      There’s more interaction and accidental encounters that bring up solutions and new ideas when people are actually together, even in the break room, parking lot or over lunch.

  5. wright_is

    We've been back at work on a limited basis since the beginning of the year. We have separation - 4 person offices now have a maximum of 2 people, the conference rooms are used for others, 1 - 2 people, depending on size. The teams also often rotate, with some in home office.


    But given that most of them have to collaborate and print out work orders etc. weigh the trucks entering and leaving the site, putting chemicals into the reactors etc. it is hard for a lot of the staff to work from home and, in the back office, a large majority are on site, with a rotating minority working from home.


    We, in the IT, for example, are working on a 50% presence rota. There will always be half the team on-site and half at home. That way, if there is an outbreak of Corona, at least half the team will still be active and able to work.


    The collaboration is much higher, when you are in the same office and you can just shout a question across the room, when you see that the colleague isn't currently on the phone. Sitting at home is much more detached and you don't get the feeling of being part of the team. Brainstorming is much harder.

  6. blue77star

    By February 1st we are going to have COVID cases in huge numbers. Vaccine only works partially and the viral infection is going to happen every 4 months, all depends when people received their last booster.

    • retcable

      By Feb 1 we are supposed to have pills available from both Moderna and Phizer, and maybe others as well, that are 90% effective at treating disease if administered in the first 3-4 days after symptoms first appear. That will be the game-changer we need to begin to rid ourselves of the risks of Covid.

      • Greg Green

        No long term testing, or even short term testing on those either.


        In less than 6 months CDC Director Rochelle Walensky goes from saying:

         March 29, 2021: Vaccinated people don’t get sick

         August 19: increased risk of severe disease for those vaccinated early


        That shows how little testing (and safety) is going into these products.

  7. Donte

    We have been back in the office for a while now, since March of 2021?


    Each department is different but it is boiling down to those that where.....always....less than productive shall we say, are the biggest voices for continued work from home. They are also the hardest to reach when not in the office.


    Conversely those that excel at their job are often at the office and when they are not, they always online/easy to get ahold of.

    • bluvg

      There's no such correlation where I work.

    • jwpear

      This sounds like the same justification we've heard about in office work for years: "If I can't see you, I don't believe you're working." Or in the case of remote work: "If I can't reach you immediately, I don't believe you're working."


      You can't always see people in the office. You also can't always reach people--they may be away from their desk talking to another employee or using the restroom. Does that mean they're not working and contributing value to the org?


      One's productivity should be the judge of one's contribution to the org, not their location.

      • Donte

        "One's productivity should be the judge of one's contribution to the org, not their location"


        That is basically what I said. Most of those pushing for continued work from home, say 80+% of those are the same people that have low productivity, that come in late, leave early, miss deadlines, always go to a work function if it means they can get out of work.


        Those back at work, 80+% are the ones that excel, always get the job done, work harder than most, and always available in the office, work from home or after hours.

  8. yaddamaster

    the increasing hospitalization cases in northern climates where people are now going inside should be a cautionary tale.

  9. seattlemike

    And here I always assumed Apple treated their employees as adults and not children who need nannies. Wow!

  10. SvenJ

    Love the phrasing, "welcoming people back to the office for one or two days a week". As opposed to, get your butts back in your seats.

  11. ghostrider

    That new multi-billion $ campus must be looking better and better value every day now as it sits idle and empty. Like most corporates these days, Apple only care about money, which is one of the main reasons humanity is in the mess it is right now.

Leave a Reply