back to article Apple to compel workers to spend '3 days a week' in the office

Apple has told its workforce they must come into the office for at least three days a week from September to get back to "in-person collaboration." According to an internal memo, CEO Tim Cook said being in the same room as a colleague was "essential" to Apple's culture. In the missive sent on Monday, Steve Job's replacement …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

    ... the concept of work had once been explained to him, but he remained unable to comprehend its purpose.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

      He is just leading the drive to work from stately home for a better notwork - life balance.

      He should be applauded

    2. trevorde Silver badge

      Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

      ... it's not possible to have an affair if you're working from home

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        >... it's not possible to have an affair if you're working from home

        I suggest you research former US president Bill Clinton...

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        it's not possible to have an affair if you're working from home

        It depends in who's "home" you are in, yours or hers.

    3. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

      That's the Boris Johnson who's currently on holiday in Greece, 2 weeks after his last holiday in Slovenia, who said that he can be contacted by phone if needed when photographed buying wine in a supermarket?

      Haven't heard any of the CEOs pushing the back to the office line explain yet how hours spent commuting every day make you more productive, as opposed to more tired and irritable.

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        Bozo spotted buying wine? Clear evidence that he's planning a work meeting

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

          >Bozo spotted buying wine?

          Chap has to "buy" his own wine?

          Obviously not a gentleman, probably a foreigner

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        "Haven't heard any of the CEOs pushing the back to the office line explain yet how hours spent commuting every day make you more productive, as opposed to more tired and irritable."

        If you look at the cost of living and traffic near Apple's HQ, you can easily see why people don't want to go back to the office, even if it does look like aliens have landed. Apple could save tremendous amounts of money and staff could have a much better quality of life if they re-located to many offices around the US. We are long past the time when it was important to communications to have everybody in one building or at least on one campus. Accounts payable and marketing can be on opposite sides of the country or even in different countries without any complications. R&D might be better off not in the same building as sales so leaks about new products are minimized. They can code key the doors, but people mingle.

        If I were to take a job with a large company for the stability (imagined), the salary and benefits, I'd be so much happier not expected to live in or around one of the world's largest cities. My salary, even if less, could stretch much further and I would be in a position to have purchased home home much earlier.

    4. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

      This tendency to turn everything into left-wing hate-based politics is really annoying.

      Why the lefties can’t talk about non-political topics without pouring their usual hatred to politicians they dislike? We are becoming like the USA when people talk politics for no reason.

      And it is always the lefties…

      1. Def Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        Because the right are always so open and friendly these days, right?

        Whether they're taking away people's rights, cutting taxes for their mates, destroying the environment, or removing welware protections for those who need it the most, they're always smiling.

        I don't know how they manage it with so much hate from the left.

      2. Is It Me

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        These comments aren't anti-right wing politics they are anti-useless Prime Minister who has broken the law and lied about it while Prime Minister

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

          It's also anti-hypocracy: the government has been desperately trying to force civil servants back to the office, even where there is no space to accommodate them while simultaneously insisting that ministers can not only work effectively from home, but even work effectively from the beach.

      3. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        It was Jacob Rees-Mogg's influence that has led half of the UK to immediately think of the Tories when mandatory office-work policies are discussed.

      4. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        @TheMeerkat I don't hate Boris Johnson. In all fairness I find him quite amusing. But I'm not quite so impressed with him as leader of these fair islands.

        As for people who "talk politics for no reason", I resemble that remark. Maybe it's because I see politics as one way (there are others) to make the world a better place.

      5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        Nothing political in this. As far as BoJo is concerned it's purely personal.

      6. mickm

        Re: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted...

        "lefties"?

        Obviously a Daily Mail reader!

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    IPad, MacBook and iPhone

    Shit for remote workers - says Apple.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: IPad, MacBook and iPhone

      Yeah - I'll definitely make my next home office purchase a non-Apple product

  3. Dr. Ellen

    No authority figure likes the masterless man, and the masterless woman is at least as frightening. Apple bosses want to be able to give their peasants a hard stare now and then. Far too many bosses and officials yearn to live in a feudal society.

    1. Scene it all

      I have known managers who rely on physical intimidation. Including throwing chairs.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        "DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!"

      2. BebopWeBop
        Facepalm

        Some of them appear to work in the UK parliament.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      The artisan weaver, working from home, was only undone when there was technology to replicate his skill - perhaps not matching it in quality but at a fraction of the cost.

      Given the present state of GitHub Copilot ("your AI pair programmer" which I carelessly misread as "your au pair programmer") I suspect Apple may have jumped the gun.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Over here artisan beavers have been almost entirely replaced by large concrete hydro-electric dams

        What few itinerant beavers remain are widely hunted for their delicious tails

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Apple bosses want to be able to give their peasants a hard stare now and then."

      A big part of the issue is that management hasn't evolved to handle people working remotely. There is also the ingrained belief that time spent in the office/factory/job site is the best metric of efficiency. They worry that people who can get their work done in half the time aren't pulling their weight and are ripping off the company. Workers learn how to mump in the office so they fill up their time cards and maintain some margin when they need it. The reward for getting work done quickly is more work, not higher pay. If you know you can have a project done by 3pm, it might make sense to stretch it to 5pm so you aren't saddled with something that needs doing right away that will have you at work until 6pm. I always had a spreadsheet I could switch to quickly that looked very impressive. Unless a manager sat down and went over it, they wouldn't know if it was relevant or not, but it would look good.

  4. VicMortimer
    Trollface

    That's fine.

    Every employee this will actually affect now has "Apple" on their resume, and will be able to find a MUCH better job that isn't forcing them back into an office.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: That's fine.

      I also like how the "Team Manager" gets to choose the 3rd day ... so much better than leaving that to personal discretion

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: That's fine.

        I can see the point though. If there are two mandatory days and one at discretion, it makes sense for a team to all be in on the same day. Not defending Apple here, but that bit makes sense within the constraints of the decree.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: That's fine.

      "and will be able to find a MUCH better job that isn't forcing them back into an office."

      It's always having to go to an office, but one that's in a very high cost of living area with lots of rush hour traffic where rent (you will never get paid enough to buy a home) can be a third of your take home pay.

  5. Skiver

    Bold move when talented and qualified people have plenty of options that don't including being at the office.

    1. ThomH

      Luckily for Apple the other broadly-similar employers such as Google, Meta, etc, are either reducing or completely freezing hiring in the short term.

      I'm full remote these days, and I ideally wouldn't ever go back. It's doing wonders for my child time — both being with one and acting like one.

      1. Def Silver badge
        Coat

        It's doing wonders for my child time

        Me too. But more specifically not being around the ones in the office.

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      The vast corporation my son works for imposed the same policy a couple of months ago and so many of the staff resigned that week, that the policy was rolled back hurriedly.

      He works in the IT Dept and was told in advance that "don't worry, it doesn't apply to us".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        After lots of surveys about how people want to work, my bigcorp had a new CEO parachuted in and the first thing he did was ignore them all and say he wanted 50% office time because that's how people work best and it's the market standard.

        Everyone in IT seems to be carrying on as before and management is studiously ignoring it as there's a shortage of "resources" anyway.

        1. Drew Scriver

          The company I work for had just spent tens of millions 'upgrading' the offices to 1950s open work areas (long tables, sometimes up to 80 people in a single area). Then came the pandemic and virtually all 50,000 employees have been working from home since then, vacating the 'upgraded' work tables the company was so proud of.

          Time and again the company announced mandatory "return to the office", but SARS-Cov2 didn't cooperate.

          The longer it lasted, the more the workers balked at 100% return to the office. In a fairly recent staff survey more than 90% responded that they would not accept mandatory time in the office.

          The latest decision has been to "encourage" (vs. earlier "compel" or "mandate") people to work in the office Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The offices will be more or less closed on Mondays and Fridays.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            There's a great acronym for employers that make you go to the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays And Thursdays :-P

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              I think it applies to a larger sub-set of employers than that.

            2. MrDamage Silver badge

              They should close the offices Mondays and Tuesdays, because after 4 days of relaxation, WTF is appropriate.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "The latest decision has been to "encourage" (vs. earlier "compel" or "mandate") people to work in the office Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The offices will be more or less closed on Mondays and Fridays."

            The problem for many who commute on public transport is that the "season tickets" or monthly bus passes are only economic when you travel there and back every day. Travelling in three days per week can work out more expensive in some cases and far less convenient having to keep buying return tickets every day you travel.

            Public transport doesn't seem to have realised that the world has changed and vast swathes of commuters have drastically changed their travelling habits. If they introduced new payment schemes, eg buy 50 journeys rather than a specific number of weeks so people can travel at the same bulk discount rates when they want to, not every day. Same applies to bridge and tunnel tolls.

            1. Def Silver badge

              You may be getting less value for money, but a season ticket isn't costing you more than before. If buying individual tickets is more expensive, just carry on buying the same thing you always did.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                It could be me, for all I know. I was under the impression that a season ticket, used 5 days per week breaks even compared to buying normal tickets for that journey, at using it 4 days per week, ie it's about 20% or so cheaper than paying daily. So if you buy the season ticket and only use it 3 days per week, you "lose" one return journey per week. Travelling into the office 3 days per week, buying daily tickets because that's cheaper than the season ticket, still means you are paying more per journey so in effect are "out of pocket".

                Maybe someone here who uses annual season tickets on the trains could clarify based on the current prices?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "He works in the IT Dept and was told in advance that "don't worry, it doesn't apply to us"."

        If you have to go in and get physical with the hardware every once in a while, that's ok, but the goal is that most day to day tasks can be done remotely. So many server rooms are in bleak, loud and hot cages that they aren't a great place to be.

  6. Orv

    Man, I wish I only had to show up three days a week. I always get, "no, we need you here in case you have to troubleshoot something in person." I live three miles away!

  7. The Viking

    3 days a week is not so bad. Two days remote is really enough for most. If they want 100%remote, work elsewhere but not Tesla either. Oh you say Meta?. Nothing to say. Sheryl has had enough, it says it all!.

  8. msobkow Silver badge

    Nah, its about management protecting their own jobs. If every has been doing the job without hands on management, and continues to do so without hands-on management, that is a whole whack of managers out of work. Count on the bean counters and shoulder-hoverers to avoid that like the plague...

    1. Czrly

      They don't know how to "manage" in any way other than "presence". These are the people for whom "respect" is a thing you earn by wearing shiny shoes and a wrist watch or for prancing about with a certain outgoing, chummy body language and demeanor -- not something you get for actual graft, skill and ability -- and management means influencing your underlings through "respect" and manipulating any uncooperative ones with psychological tricks and, frequently, abuse.

      The irony is that, once, long ago, there actually were things in an office that actually were useful. They were called "whiteboards" and, if you could actually find a meeting room with a clean one and sufficient pens that actually wrote, a team of developers with the right direction and camaraderie *could* actually use them to come up with an idea or a plan and take a 'phone picture of it, afterwards, to put down as "documentation."

      Whiteboards, however, don't look very "nice" (I guess...) and so they've been gone for years -- about a decade since I found a useful one!

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Not just not neat, but you'll often hear people say "nobody uses it". You don't, pal -- different from "nobody".

        And to add insult to injury, Microsoft's free Office Lens app will now let you capture a whiteboard neatly, with a minimum of fuss.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Agreed. I've worked from home for nearly a quarter-century, and my manager has done the same; and even before they closed his local office, he'd been successfully managing (intercontinental) remote teams for a decade or so.

        Managers who need you to be in their physical presence are incompetent. There's no inherent need for it.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Blackboads were even better if dustier. Permanent chalk isn't a thing.

        1. that one in the corner Silver badge

          > Permanent chalk isn't a thing

          You're not trying hard enough!

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "The irony is that, once, long ago, there actually were things in an office that actually were useful. They were called "whiteboards" and, if you could actually find a meeting room with a clean one and sufficient pens that actually wrote, a team of developers with the right direction and camaraderie *could* actually use them to come up with an idea or a plan and take a 'phone picture of it, afterwards, to put down as "documentation.""

            When I was building rockets (not SpaceX) we'd do the whiteboard thing for a couple of hours and then spend months off in our own specialties doing our part. They are great for those sorts of rough design sessions, but not used a large percentage of the time. We also couldn't leave too much on them due to ITAR issues and when we have visitors. We'd all take photos with out phones and get on with it. Somebody would post a good image to the project file in SVN so we'd have a permanent record. I had a white board next to my desk for notes. If somebody had a question and I wasn't in, they could draw a picture if that helped. Mostly I sketched on paper as I had always done. It's faster than the computer and I could make a complete mess of the drawing and do the major clean up as I copied it in CAD. It also allowed me to scribble notes for things like tolerances and needed callouts.

      4. swm Silver badge

        They were called "whiteboards"

        I prefer blackboards. They had a nice tactile feel and , in case of serious blots, could be erased with a sander.

        In grad school I had an office with 3 blackboards and they were great. There was the issue of chalk dust though.

    2. Uncle Slacky
      Stop

      > avoid that like the plague

      I think we're going to need to come up with a better analogy, given recent experience.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My lot have gone the other way. The bean counters realised that having everyone provide their own office space some or all of the time meant they didn't need such a big HQ. Rumour has it they've saved well over 10m a year by downsizing.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        They're probably laughing as they've managed to shift a major cost onto their employees without the plebs realising it

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "They're probably laughing as they've managed to shift a major cost onto their employees without the plebs realising it"

          I'd still have an office at home regardless. I might use a bit more toilet paper and have to provide my own coffee/tea, but I don't have to maintain a business wardrobe or put miles on my car going to work and back. The trade can be worth it. I work in hardware so it might be nice to have a small lab/shop to use from time to time, but I often have better tools at home. At least they are tools I am more familiar with. The time spent on design and documentation is often much more than fabrication which means far fewer days when being in the office/shop is necessary. I can also do a bunch of the work at home as I said. I'm not going to be using that much more electricity that the balance shifts away from my favor. If that did turn out to be the case, I would ask for reimbursement or extra pay. If my job was making parts full time, it wouldn't work out but a small local shop would be better than an all-encompassing facility.

    4. Ashentaine

      Not to mention it costs the same amount to keep the lights on in offices that aren't being used, and eventually the shareholders are going to look at that money being spent on mostly idle properties and start grumbling about it. And I'm sure Apple is much more scared of upsetting its shareholders than it is of upsetting its employees.

  9. Irony Deficient Silver badge

    Steve Job's [sic] replacement said […]

    Tim Cook is certainly Steve Jobs’ successor. It could be debated whether he has been a replacement for Jobs — cf. the strength of their respective reality distortion fields.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Steve Job's [sic] replacement said […]

      The catastrophic drop in Apple sales, profits and market cap since Cook took over would certainly suggest so.

  10. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
    Coat

    Don't know what they're talking about

    I have to go to the office once a month. Every other day I work, I work. On that in-office day, it's a complete cluster. Instead of my bespoke desk with multiple monitors, I have to try working on just my laptop while sitting at a crap desk that's too low for me to work comfortably at, provided I can find an open spot. Job requires a minimum of 2 monitors and if I'm lucky I can land a spot with a docking station with 1 monitor. What's worse, at home I have half a chance at hearing people on the phone as my home office is quiet and the worst interruption is my cat climbing in my lap. In the office it's the inane chatter of people catching up on a month's gossip instead of the daily gossip pre-home work. Worse than that, at home I can work uninterrupted, in the office it's a thousand "How do I do this" questions, over and over, same questions from the same people who are too lazy to refer to their own notes. I don't get this at home as asking those questions then means a paper trail.

    I get more work done in an hour at home than I do the entire day in the office. Add on the gasoline and time wasted on the hour-long commute, plus paying to park, no. I do not want to return to the office. If they made it a requirement, see icon. I'm close enough to retirement now that I probably just would.

    1. Reg Reader 1

      Re: Don't know what they're talking about

      The company I work for has just mandated my group back one day a month. I'll be curious to see if I have any monitors, a keyboard, or a mouse to hook my mini up to when I get there, let alone a decent chair. If the new environment can't meet proper ergonomic requirements I'll be heading home.

      If there are no monitors, or no keyboard, or no mouse I might just plug in and stay. I can say I did what I could with what was there and wonder around catching up with people I haven't seen for couple of years.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Don't know what they're talking about

        "If there are no monitors, or no keyboard, or no mouse I might just plug in and stay. I can say I did what I could with what was there and wonder around catching up with people I haven't seen for couple of years."

        It's nice to put faces with people you "work" with remotely. I'd see it as a social gathering rather than a day much work is going to be done. So many offices use a "hotelling" approach with long tables that you plonk your laptop down on to work that you won't get a workspace that fits your needs, just one that doesn't fit anybody's needs.

        Moist was correct about needing a certain set up to do certain types of work. When the aerospace company I was at could afford to buy a new lot of computers, what I needed and what the structures engineer needed were very different. I was building the avionics so it was schematics and circuit boards and JP was simulating aerodynamics and structural loading so a much more powerful computer was in order. In a pinch, he could use my computer, but it would have been painful. I could use the office managers computer, but she only got one monitor and I'm very used to using two or more. I'd also have to get a cart to wheel over my reference material and charts. Some things are easier to find in the real world rather than looking them up online. Search engines always assume you are looking to buy something.

    2. MisterHappy

      Re: Don't know what they're talking about

      100% Agree with this. I have told my boss that I am far more productive at home, when I am in the office I get all of the "Can you help me with..." or "Have you got a minute" requests that could have been asked in an email or Teams but some people just hold onto it until they can collar someone in person.

      My set up at home is much more conducive to work, even after the mandated 2 monitors per desk they implemented, simply because when I buy my own kit it's to my personal spec & not what bigbox co can supply at a low price.

    3. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: Don't know what they're talking about

      If they made it a requirement, see icon. I'm close enough to retirement now that I probably just would.

      In the UK, I've recently read that part of the labour shortage is caused by this attitude (which I share). These articles usually go on to discuss how to persuade these retirees to come back to work. Seems we have at least one answer.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @M.V. Lipvig - Re: Don't know what they're talking about

      Absolutely right. Besides that, there will always be a collaborator from your team or another team that is working from home so you will spend your day in Teams anyway. I call it remote work in the office which in my opinion is silly.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: @M.V. Lipvig - Don't know what they're talking about

        "so you will spend your day in Teams anyway"

        No, yeah, no. Teams drives me nuts and thankfully I should never have to experience it again. One of the huge benefits of working from home is a reduction in interruptions. I get so much more done if a parade of interns isn't asking me where to find a screw or something rather than just wandering around looking for it themselves. I spent all of that time trying to get things organized that it isn't that hard (or wasn't. I don't work there anymore). Since they got F'all in pay, spending time wandering around looking for things wasn't that big of a deal to the company. At least not in the same way my losing time was (even at wages they paying me. peanuts).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't know what they're talking about

      I've worked from home since well before the pandemic. We used to meet up around every 6 weeks for a day in the office, which consisted of catching up with everyone and going out for a lunch together. It was assumed that no meaningful work was done on that day.

      Since the pandemic, we've met up once in the pub for lunch, and didn't even bother with visiting the office.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess Apple will be moving all their manufacturing to Cupertino?

    How else are they going to have all their colleagues in the office?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I guess Apple will be moving all their manufacturing to Cupertino?

      I don't think Far Eastern wage slaves are considered "colleagues"...

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I guess Apple will be moving all their manufacturing to Cupertino?

      By the time a product gets into manufacturing, Cupertino has long since lost sight of the backside of that iteration. It's up to Foxconn or whoever to get the yields up. The reference design has been proved out.

  12. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Yup, it's a part of Apple culture, all right

    Work for control freaks, live with control-freakery. My condolences to Apple employees, but really they should have seen this coming.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It could be that what gets collaborated on most in person is dislike against Apple. Has there been any prior history of unionisation there?

  14. Captain Boing
    Meh

    why ...

    ... are they always "excited"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why ...

      ...because going forward they will be leveraging running their aligned ducks up a flagpole.

  15. constance szeflinski

    Get overyourselves

    The person or company paying you gets to define what you’re being paid for. That’s the way it works. If you don’t like the definition because it includes showing up in person you have options, one of which is to find a job more to your liking. Another is to unionize and with like minded colleagues negotiate for what you want. Simply complaining isn’t going to move the needle at all. If you are important enough the rules will change for you. If not, that’s life, and no one said it would be exactly what you want it to be.

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