Some Apple employees bristle as three-day office return looms

Some Apple employees are bristling over the company’s requirement that will soon call for most of its corporate workers to be in the office at least three days per week.

Apple Park in Cupertino, California
Apple Park in Cupertino, California

Sara Ashley O’Brien for CNN Business:

The employees, organizing under a newly-formed group known as Apple Together that advocates for workers’ well-being and rights, are petitioning leadership for more flexibility. They’re also calling out a disconnect between the company’s external marketing to customers that its products allow people to “work from anywhere” and its internal messaging to staffers. “How can we understand what problems of remote work need solving in our products, if we don’t live it?” reads an open letter addressed to company leadership and published Friday on Apple Together’s website.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, you’ll still be living it at least two days a week… Oh, but, let’s be honest, we all know you don’t really do much actual work from home (which is why you’re bristling over having to return to actual work).

Apple’s hybrid return pilot initially drew backlash in June 2021 after it was outlined to staffers, but Apple, like most companies, pushed back the rollout as a result of new Covid-19 variants in the fall and winter. Following the delays, Apple began its phased approach to getting workers back into the office, beginning with once a week at the beginning of April before upping to twice a week more recently. The company outlined its most recent timeline for employees in an email, the text of which was published by The Verge.

MacDailyNews Note: The full text of Cook’s email, verbatim:


As our response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, I’d like to share an update on our plans to return to our offices.

In many locations, officials have started lifting pandemic restrictions in accordance with the guidance of public health experts. And based on the latest data, we are optimistic that this progress will continue into the spring.

While many of you have been coming in regularly for quite some time, we are now looking forward to welcoming those of you who shifted to working remotely back to our corporate offices. In the United States, beginning on April 11, we’ll begin the phased approach to the hybrid pilot, with teams returning to the office initially one day a week, and then, beginning in the third week, two days a week. This transitional period will now be extended from four to six weeks.

We will then begin the hybrid pilot in full on May 23, with people coming to the office three days a week — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday — and working flexibly on Wednesday and Friday if you wish.

Though the timing may vary to some degree in different countries/sites based on local conditions, we will follow the same process wherever we are not yet back in the office. You’ll hear more details from your local teams on specific timing as it applies to your location.

As a reminder, our offices and many services like Caffè Macs and our espresso bars are currently open and many people are already coming in each week. Between now and April 11, I encourage you to join them, whether it’s to grab coffee with a colleague, check out your workspace, or hold a team meeting.

Due to the decline in active cases, most, if not all of Apple’s U.S. sites will revert to being mask-optional over the next few weeks. As always, we will continue monitoring local conditions and are prepared to adjust our protocols as necessary for the health of our teams and communities. I also want to make clear that you are always welcome to wear a mask and you should feel comfortable doing so. And I want to reiterate the vital importance of getting the vaccine and a booster if you are able to. You can always find the latest on our protocols on Welcome Forward.

For many of you, I know that returning to the office represents a long-awaited milestone and a positive sign that we can engage more fully with the colleagues who play such an important role in our lives. For others, it may also be an unsettling change. I want you to know that we are deeply committed to giving you the support and flexibility that you need in this next phase — a commitment that begins with this gradual introduction of our hybrid pilot and includes the option to work remotely for up to four weeks a year. If you have any questions, you can find more details on the People site.

As we begin this pilot, we are looking forward to learning as we go and adjusting where we need to, all in service of fostering a really collaborative and flexible approach to our work together.

In the meantime, I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being together again. And I want to thank each and every one of you. Whether you’ve been working from home or coming into our stores, labs, or offices, you have been an essential part of this incredible team, and I am so grateful for all that you bring to Apple.

In the coming weeks and months, we have an opportunity to combine the best of what we have learned about working remotely with the irreplaceable benefits of in-person collaboration. It is as important as ever that we support each other through this transition, through the challenges we face as a team and around the world. I look forward to being together and to learning together during this pilot as we continue to build on the culture that makes Apple such an incredible place.


Friday’s [open letter from “Apple Together”] calls the pilot a “step back in flexibility for many of our teams,” comes in anticipation of the last phase of Apple’s pilot, which is slated to go into effect at the end of May, where workers will be expected in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It spells out specific reasons they’re taking issue with the pilot, ranging from forcing workers to unnecessarily commute — “a huge waste of time as well as both mental and physical resources” — to what they see as an inevitable impact on diversity. “Apple will likely always find people willing to work here, but … being in the office at least 3 fixed days of the week … will make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied, in short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit,” the letter added.

One of the organizers, an employee who works on hardware engineering in the Bay Area and asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told CNN Business that there are roughly 200 workers who are engaged with Apple Together.

MacDailyNews Take: When Apple’s three-day in-office work policy is enacted on May 23, employees will be required to be in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with most able to “work” remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays.

So, let’s be real, the amount of “work” that will get done on Fridays is pretty much nil. Therefore, Apple corporate employees have an implicit four-day workweek. Make it three-and-a-half days; Wednesdays will be a “take it easy day,” too.

Expect less to get done than in the pre-COVID panic days – it’s virtually guaranteed (pun intended) – until the labor market loosens and companies can once again begin requiring employees to put in a full workweek.

Now, according to this relative handful of “Apple Together” geniuses who are, if Apple management retains any shred of sanity*, vying mightily for pink slips: Only young, white, male, heterosexuals are capable of making it to work three days a week.

Puleeze. Can the crap.

The only people who complain of having to go into the office to actually work for three whole days are, to use the scientific parlance: lazy assholes.

So, Apple’s management should collectively grow a pair and promptly extend a parting cordiality to the “Apple Together” wannabe layabouts: Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

As we wrote nearly a year ago (!):

Employees who don’t want to return to work in person should pound sand either of their own volition or via pink slip.

“The inclusivity that flexibility brings?” Bullshit nonsense.

Returning to offices in early September is already ridiculously late.

There are literally millions of qualified, talented, driven people who would gladly work five – gasp! – whole days a week in the office for Apple.

Get back to work or get lost.

Successful companies like Apple don’t run on layabouts who’ve already enjoyed a very lengthy year-plus extended vacation and who are now ruined.

If these employees don’t quickly wake and wise up, cut them loose, Apple. Swing the axe, don’t coddle them.

I do not adopt softness towards others because I want to make them better. — Steve Jobs

Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. — Steve Jobs

“A” players attract “A” players. “B” players attract “C” players. — Steve Jobs

*debatable, given how interminably long Apple’s weak-kneed management have allowed this scamdemic work-from-home farce to continue.

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  1. The only people who complain of having to go into the office to actually work for three whole days are, to use the scientific parlance: lazy assholes. – MacDailyNews


    1. and Allah Akbar for good measure

      my little peons should never be allowed to use Macs remotely to do work. why? because backward thinking is par for the course here

  2. These whiners should be given the opportunity to pursue other paths in their careers. Pretty sure most will have been hired under the ‘ancien régime’ of being in the office, physically, for five days a week!

    1. I used to work at a company with a cubicle farm environment. I would estimate that over 90% of the time, being in the office did nothing to improve productivity. Most of what I did required communication with people in different time zones, seldom with anyone in the same office. Then top off an unfulfilling day as an anonymous worker drone at the hive with a very stressful commute with thousands of others on choked highways. I could have been more productive overall without the commute and the office politics. It should be easy to see why many think the old 9-to-5 office arrangement is pointless. Face-to-face meetings in some areas might need to happen every day, but in other places, meeting once a month is more than enough.

      There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I suspect that many people at Apple will ask for, and receive, permission to select other work schedules or alternate locations or more time working remotely. We have the technology to do this now. That’s OK.

      Has Apple as a company been less successful in the last 2 years? No, with almost all knowledge workers 100% remote, Apple set earnings records. Its businesses are increasingly subscriptions and streaming, so many of those workers don’t benefit from physical presence any more than you prefer to visit a movie theatre more than watching AppleTV in your home theatre room.

      Regardless of what you or I think is appropriate, if Apple wants to retain talent, Apple will have to match what other employers offer, especially for younger employees who cannot possibly afford a house in the hyper-expensive Silicon Valley. In this era, and especially in this industry, the expectation that everyone is at their best when they work every day in a soul crushing office is the sign of backward thinking.

      1. “… if Apple wants to retain talent, Apple will have to match what other employers offer,…”

        There’s talk that Twitter may lay off 1000 employees in the future. If that is what you mean by Apple matching other employers offers, I have no problem.

      2. Well, maybe you come from a different background than I do. Have you ever gone hungry or not been able to feed your kids? Do you have others that you must put above your own wants or needs? At some point, putting food and clean water on the table and providing for those who depend on you is everything. Based on your comments, I doubt your background was built on necessity. I will do whatever it takes and if that means driving into an office to work in a “cubical farm environment” so I can provide for my family and others, so be it. I would feel blessed to work for Apple and all the benefits they provide to their employees. Good pay, benefits, insurance, vacation, decent hours, advancement opportunities, educational benefits….the list of is far superior than most. With the coming recession, I wouldn’t be complaining and I’m sure the Apple employees will still get their raises and benefits. That won’t be the case for many of us so forgive me if, from where I stand, entitled seems to fit.

        1. If you’re struggling to feed your family and you work in Cupertino, then how many hours do you drive to get to housing that the median income family could afford?

      3. I think it is extremely simple.

        Were you hired to work on site, or were you hired to work remotely.

        If the former then get your ass into work on site every bit as much as Apple requires. If the later then any complaint about having to work predominantly on site has some validity but not total validity as all remote workers have a minimal on site requirement for certain tasks — all of them.

        There really is no other way to look at it.

    2. It’s true. Entitled self absorbed asshats think they have no personal responsibility to improve hygiene during a pandemic. Entitled idiots whining about the price of Saudi gas to pour into their import gas guzzlers. Entitled con men telling you moderation and rules are bad, so their media will impose only rules they establish— and that is freedom. Entitled consumers demanding walmart slave wage products while actively opposing wage increases for US workers.

      So many selfish old dinosaurs acting entitled. Thank goodness you are dying off quickly. Don’t immunize yourself, since you don’t believe that any one else deserves a fair shot at anything other than crumbs from the oligarchs you worship.

  3. Interesting takes here. I wonder what Steve Jobs would do if Apple shipped a $1600 monitor with a broken camera or a ‘bug fix the second you get it out of the box’…

    I wonder if people are really focused on work or getting distracted.

    I’m guessing he’d rip someone’s head off and fire them by the end of day. Maybe Tim Cook did the same.

  4. The office is largely dead. Old thinking is all that is keeping it alive. It is wasteful and inefficient mostly. One day per week in the office would suffice. It’s a whiteboard day but otherwise, look at the research. Offices are horribly distracting and waste hours of people’s time to travel to. If you hire someone to do a job and they do it well, what the fuxk does it matter if they only spend 10 min that week working?

    In fact, I want those people who are so smart and efficient that they get shxt done in a fraction of the time compared to many others. I could care less if you code in between golf shots on the golf course. As long as you’re a high performer.

    1. “I could care less if you code in between golf shots on the golf course.”

      You just nailed what is wrong with employees working at home. Goofing off for a number of pursuits besides golf and OTHER than work.

      Employees are paid to work and obey management. If management wants you in the office for oversight, do it, as it always has been for hundreds of years.

      Can’t handle the job requirements snowflakes — bitch, moan, and QUIT. You have been pampered longer in Covid than 99% of companies.


  5. Of course there’s going to be some pushback. It’s change.

    But hey, someone has to finally be in the Spaceship they built.
    But it seems some are opting to leave, and that’s their right.

  6. Oh boo hoo. As an educator in k-12, in a state that’s been fully open, MASKLESS with no mandates of any kind for a year now (118,000 students | 20,000 staff | not ONE campus shut for Covid the entire time) – Go back to work.

  7. You could have saved a lot of space by translating Cook’s email into the TL:DR version “Bla bla buzzword bla bla fake sincerity bla bla I really really REALLY don’t want to look like a total schmuck for spending all that money on this big flying saucer thingy”.

  8. I’m so fscking embarrassed for my generation.

    We are a generation of self-entitled whiners, complainers, and pessimists. Things are tough so we say “wahh, we want to flip the table and tear all of society dow”—genders and all.

    In contrast, when things got tough for the Greatest Generation, they produced an American-oriented world order that has paid dividends for generations to come.

    On behalf of millennials anywhere: I’m sorry. There’s a solid 20% of my generation us in the industry that would gladly work our assess off in the collaborative office environment. Please find them and fire everyone else.

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