back to article Apple to summon staff back to the office in September

Tim Cook has issued a memo to Apple staffers warning that their days of shirking-from-home in the pandemic are over. From early September, employees will be expected to spend at least three days a week in the office, with Wednesdays and Fridays open to remote working for some. The iGiant CEO said the decision to pick specific …

  1. BigAndos

    I really can't decide where the remote working situation will end up. I love working from home for the extra time it gives me, the money I save and not having to go into London every day. I'm definitely starting to miss the social aspects though and I do worry about how we'll train up new employees or kick off new projects long term. I suspect most companies will end up with a mixture so Apple's policy is probably reasonable. I do wonder how many companies that ditched lots (or even all) of their office space will row back on it after a year or two.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Missing the social aspects

      Yes, the coughs, colds, arguments over the office temperature, the second rate food at the wrong time etc. Once the lock down is over instead of standing on an overpriced train or sitting burning petrol in a pointless traffic jam try your local sports clubs, pub, getting a dog and walking it. Most IT offices are stuffed to the gills with pasty faced boys with terrible dress sense, smelly feet and zero social skills, if you are very lucky there is a pretty gal on reception but generally that's not the case either. Freed from the need to get into the London or Cambridge office I can even choose somewhere nice and affordable to live.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I suspect most companies will end up with a mixture so Apple's policy is probably reasonable."

      On the other hand, there a lots of admin and support staff who really don't need to come into the office very often, if ever. They don't collaborate. They just sit at their desks or in their cubes all day pecking at keyboards or on the phone.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Project kick-offs are a once every few years thing, except for the occasional off-site or remote review. Seems a mistake to plan regular work as if these occasional events (that managers thrive off in a continual cycle) are the norm.

  2. Giles C Silver badge

    With working from home it is very dependent on the job you are doing.

    My current contract has me working with people in India, Texas, San Francisco, and Tokyo, there are some people in the uk but only about 3 or 4. So in that respect it doesn’t make any difference where I am as I would never meet these people in person regardless.

    On the other hand if I was installing kit or rebuilding a site in the uk then I would have to be onsite for that work.

    I can see most companies going for a hybrid model long term but it depends on the culture. And also if you have managers that believe anyone not visible must be slacking off then they won’t help the situation.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Slacking off

      So pay people according to the value they deliver. And that includes managers, if your department doesnt deliver you don't get paid. It's results, output that matters and not whether I did it in an airless inside office or at 9pm after spending the day surfing

    2. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Interesting point about international teams

      I always found it annoying to be told I had to be in the Cambridge office because I had to work with the team.... Most of whom were in Romania or Bangalore

      1. thenitz

        Re: Interesting point about international teams

        Funny enough, it works both ways; there's little point for many of us in Bucharest, Romania to come to an office, when your job means you work with the people in Cambridge and Bangalore... or even in a little Romanian village in the middle of nowhere.

    3. Falmari Silver badge

      Balanced approach

      @Giles C “With working from home it is very dependent on the job you are doing.”

      I agree some jobs especially in IT, don’t require you to be “onsite for that work”. I have worked on many projects before Covid with people based in other parts of the world and to this day have never met. Co-location to my mind has never had an impact, negative or positive on working together.

      That said co-location is not the same as working from home. Working from home is working in total isolation from everyone. It can cut you off from the flow of ideas and information that you get in a workplace.

      In my experience a lot the work/skills that contribute to me developing my code are unseen coming from co-works that are not directly involved in the work I am doing. This free flow of ideas is not sought by me, neither is it something my employers have demanded. It is just human nature that benefits both me and my employers and makes me a better programmer.

      Apple’s mandatory 3-day approach to working post covid seems a balanced approach to their employees needs and the needs of Apple.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "And also if you have managers that believe anyone not visible must be slacking off then they won’t help the situation."

      I've been a remote worker for nearly 30 years. My job is on-site with multiple customers per day, so lots of time on the road. The only downside is we get "forgotten" about because no one ever sees our faces. The plus side is I log in when I get home, check where I need to be tomorrow and generally choose which order to the jobs in to suit me. I can go months with no contact between me and bosses other than the occasional email and even rarer phone calls. But, again, not being "seen" often means you get forgotten about.

  3. Dave 15 Silver badge

    If I worked for them

    My resignation would be in. We have proved we can work without sitting for hours polluting the planet, killing ourselves inhaling vehicle fumes, missing out on daylight (many companies have inside offices with no natural light at all) catching coughs,, infections and other nasties from colleagues and putting up with crap food and drinks. I am not going back to that even if it means dropping from the it rat race entirely and becoming a farm labourer. We dont need to put up with the crap for a while but dinosaur who can't think better than a Victorian slave driver

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: If I worked for them

      I'm with you.

      I only work to top up money for nice holidays and stuff. I'm already over the line well before retirement age. If I'm required to start commuting again, I think I'll just call it a day and do something I'm really interested in.

    2. EvilOldBugger

      Re: If I worked for them

      To me it seems fairly obvious - we have proved we can work from home successfully (and avoided getting infections such as flu, colds and covid) so where it applies, we should be allowed to carry on.

      Obviously, where the job requires it, we will still need to travel into work. I am currently slowing down ready for retirement, so was only working three half days anyway. even before lockdown, whether I came into work depended on what I was doing. So, if it was simple coding then I did it at home with all the advantages that gave me. If it was user testing, then I would go into work, as the ease of user feedback made that worth while.

      Post lockdown, I will probably be spending more time physically at work than my manager but that's fine, we seem to have communicated via email quite successfully. If further clarification was required, then Teams was fine.

      If they tried to take that away from me, would that be grounds for unfair or constructive dismissal?

  4. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    Bonkers approach?

    Not the three day bit. That’s Apple’s choice and I’d grudgingly accept that if my employer made the same demand. But three days of a full house when fewer people, a bit more spread out, everyday, would probably be healthier? This disease isn’t going away and nor will the reasons to be a little bit cautious and manage the risks it presents.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bonkers approach?

      Yeah, it would make more sense to allow managers to decide with their teams what works best for them. Specifying from the top which days will be allocated as WFH days is stupid. Spreading the load across the week make much more sense.

      1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

        Re: Bonkers approach?

        Apple control-freakery doesn't just apply to their customers

  5. vtcodger Silver badge

    Alternate uses for a large shiny glass building

    You don't spend $5bn on a shiny glass Ive-designed HQ and leave it empty

    Maybe Amazon could use it for a warehouse? Or Elon could manufacture hi-tech goldfish bowls -- or something we all need at least two or three of -- there?

    1. tonique
      Joke

      Re: Alternate uses for a large shiny glass building

      Some other suggestions:

      Add some mirrors and lenses (not smoke!) and use it as a solar concentrator and convert the heat into electricity. Apple can afford that. Also, green energy!

      Turn the doughnut into a rather large washing machine.

      Use the it to make a support structure for a radio telescope... okay the location would initally be rather bad because there's plenty of interference nearby. Maybe create a 20-kilometre radius radio silent zone around it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alternate uses for a large shiny glass building

      Maybe convert it into a retirement complex with private golf course?

  6. razza

    get back to those offices you drones. You can't have that life so easily. They will want you back if just for the power that has over you.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Great Resignation?

    There's an interesting debate about how real is the notion of "The Great Resignation". What has become obvious to companies like Microsoft, SAP, Salesforce, Twitter, etc is that offering fully flexible working is going to be key to retain and gain new employees. Additionally for many roles location is now moot. So if you've been happily working from home since March 2020 and are suddenly told that you *must* return to the office for at least Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, you indeed might re-evaluate your position when so many other great employers are happy for you to work from home.

    My own company surveyed its employees; <10% want to work 100% from home, <20% want to work 100% in the office and the remainder want flex-time and come into the office 1, 2 or 3 days a week.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Most of us recognise that 100% working from home is not ideal for most... but if you are running a company and mandate employees to return to the office, maybe "The Great Resignation" might become a reality.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another option.

    If we are talking social distancing still being a thing the surely splitting into teams (where this isn’t already the case) then rotating those teams to be “on prem” a week at a time with comprehensive cleaning of premises over the weekend “change over” would seem to be something to consider.

  9. John G C

    Tim Cook can issue edicts like this as often as he likes, but it is a waste of time. September is three months away and there is absolutely no certainty what the position will be regarding the pandemic. If the variants force another lockdown, then this plan it toast

    Don't forget Timmy - it's the little virus what decides what we all do, not your memoes.

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