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In context: The return-to-work mandate is proving to be the tech industry's hot-button topic, with many employees resisting calls to come back into the office after more than two years of working from home. Apple is one of the industry giants experiencing this outrage as staff petition against plans to return to the workplace next month.
Apple CEO Tim Cook last week sent out a memo to all employees informing them that they must return to the office for at least three days a week starting September 5. Workers were told to come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a third day to vary depending on each team—a previous plan involved employees coming in on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Cook said in the memo that he wants to preserve the "in-person collaboration that is so essential to our culture."
Apple has long had a reputation for being a super-progressive company, but its views on working in the office are more traditional and a stark contrast to other Silicon Valley firms such as Facebook and Google, who, following the arrival of Covid lockdowns, mandated that employees could work from home permanently if they choose.
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A group of Apple employees called Apple Together, formed last year, started circulating an internal petition on Sunday demanding "location flexible work." According to The Financial Times, the petition states, "We believe that Apple should encourage, not prohibit, flexible work to build a more diverse and successful company where we can feel comfortable to 'think different' together."
The petition also claims that the mandate fails to acknowledge the many compelling reasons why employees are "happier and more productive" working from home. The group is demanding Apple allows staff to decide their working arrangements with their managers.
Numerous surveys have shown that most people don't want to return to the office, full-time or otherwise, and some people are ready to quit their jobs over these demands or take pay cuts and lose benefits if it means staying at home. Most people consider themselves more productive when working remotely, too, though they don't always think so highly of their colleagues.
While Cook is in the minority of CEOs longing for the pre-Covid era of being in the office all day, one boss who seems to really hate remote work is Elon Musk. In June, the world's richest person told Tesla and SpaceX staff to spend 40 hours per week in the office or find other jobs, although some Tesla employees did find there weren't enough desks or parking spaces when they returned.