Few major companies have had a more controversial internal argument about remote work during the pandemic than Apple, but it continues to return many employees to physical offices as of February.
As previously reported by CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in an email to employees both a new return to office date and a revised work-from-home policy for the people who make iPhones, macOS, and many other products.
Cook described the return to the office as a “hybrid work pilot,” with multiple stages and different rules depending on the nature of each employee’s job.
From February 1, most employees will have to return to the office one or two days a week. But in March, the requirement is three days a week.
That said, the new arrangement will also vary by team. Some teams that “have a greater need to work in person” will have to come four or five days a week – presumably the hardware teams and a few others, but we’re not sure.
This summer, Apple had made plans to bring employees back to the office in September, but as we previously reported, the employees were not happy about that and started a campaign to prevent this. Apple leadership eventually pushed the date back to January, so this week’s announcement about February represents an additional delay.
To accommodate employee requests for more flexibility, Cook told Apple employees they can now work completely remotely for up to four weeks a year. Here’s an excerpt from Cook’s email on that topic:
We are committed to providing you with more flexibility as we progress. In addition to the ability to work remotely twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays, we announced this summer that with manager approval, team members can work remotely for up to two weeks per year. I am pleased to announce that we are extending the time you can work remotely to a total of four weeks per year. This opens up more opportunities to travel, be closer to your loved ones, or just shake up your routines.
Before the pandemic, Apple was less remote than many other Silicon Valley tech companies, but nearly its entire workforce was largely or completely remote during much of the pandemic.
However, some other tech companies like Twitter have announced much more flexible long-term work-from-home policies in the wake of their lessons from the pandemic. What Cook described in the leaked email is much more conservative than what some techies get in those other workplaces.