Tencent Technology News reported on June 5 that Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, recently sent a letter to all employees, asking them to return to work in the office three days a week in early September. However, Apple employees do not seem to be buying up. They not only resist the new policy, but even write to cook, hoping to implement a more flexible way of working and complaining that their demands are ignored.
In the internal letter, employees said they want the company to develop more flexible solutions so that those who want to work remotely can continue to do so. “We would like to take this opportunity to express our growing concerns to our colleagues,” it read. Apple’s long-distance, flexible work policy and related communication issues around it have forced many of our colleagues to resign. Without the inclusiveness that flexibility brings, many of us feel that we have to choose between family, well-being and hard work, or we won’t be part of apple. ”
Just two days ago, cook sent a full letter to Apple employees, saying that starting this fall, they need to return to work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and most employees can work remotely twice a week. They can also be telecommuting for up to two weeks of the year, with the approval of the manager. Compared with Apple’s previous corporate culture, this obviously eases the restrictions. Before the outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia, Apple was known for its discouraging employees from working at home. However, compared with other technology giants, Apple’s approach is still conservative. Both twitter and Facebook have told employees that even when the epidemic is over, they can always work from home.
For many Apple employees, the current policy is not enough, and it shows that Apple executives and employees have different views on telework. “In the past year, we have often felt that our demands have not been listened to, and have sometimes been ignored,” it wrote. Information like this: “we know that many of you are eager to get back in touch with colleagues in the office”, but do not send a message to admit that there is a direct contradiction between us, which makes people feel despised and disapproved. It feels like there seems to be a disconnect between the management team’s view of telework and the life experience of many Apple employees. ”
The letter to cook began with a slack channel for telecommuting advocates, which has about 2800 members. About 80 people participated in the writing and editing of the internal letter. Apple employees say acceptance of telecommuting is critical to the company’s diversity and inclusiveness efforts. “For inclusiveness and diversity to work, we have to recognize how different each of us is, and these differences lead to different needs and different ways of thriving,” they said
The following is the full text of Apple employees’ internal letter to cook:
Dear cook and leaders
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the hybrid approach to returning to the office and sharing this idea with all of us earlier this week. We appreciate your efforts to help everyone in the world through difficult times and are sure that your plans will be more than revealed on Wednesday, but we follow Apple’s long tradition of announcing only when things are ready. However, we feel that the current policy is not enough to meet many of our needs, so we would like to take a moment to explain.
The past year has been an unprecedented challenge for our company: we have to learn how to provide the same high-quality apple products and services as before, almost completely remotely. We did it and achieved another record annual performance. We’ve found a way for everyone to support each other and succeed in a new way of collaboration, from where we can choose to work (usually at home).
However, we would like to take this opportunity to express our growing concerns to our colleagues. Apple’s long-distance, flexible work policy and related communication issues around it have forced many of our colleagues to resign. Without the inclusiveness that flexibility brings, many of us feel that we have to choose between family, well-being and hard work, or we won’t be part of apple. This is a decision that none of us will take lightly, and it is also a decision that many people do not want to make. To a large extent, these concerns have prompted us to advocate changes in these policies, and the data collected will reflect these concerns.
In the past year, we often feel that our demands are not listened to and sometimes ignored. Messages like this: “we know that many of you are eager to get back in touch with colleagues in the office,” but don’t send a message to admit that there is a direct contradiction between us, which makes people feel despised and disapproved. Many of us not only feel that we have established a good connection with colleagues around the world, but we are now in better contact than ever before. We are already looking forward to working like we do now, instead of having to go back to the office every day. It feels like there seems to be a disconnect between the management team’s view of telework and the life experience of many Apple employees.
For many at Apple, we are successful not because we work from home, but because we can work outside the office. In the past year, we feel that for the first time, we really have the ability to do the best work, free from the challenges of commuting and face-to-face work, and take better care of ourselves and the people around us.
Looking ahead, we believe that the workplace and time will be more flexible in the future. In fact, we are already a distributed company with offices around the world and in many different time zones. Apple’s organizational structure is more likely to follow the same structure of the office, in which case, people in the same company are more likely to share an office. At the same time, we strongly encourage cross functional and cross organizational collaboration, which is reflected in many horizontal teams in our company.
This kind of cooperation has been widely praised in our company, which can be said to help us achieve the best results, which is one of the important reasons why Apple has become apple. However, companies rarely coexist in a short distance, let alone in the same building, which means that our best collaboration has always required remote communication with other offices and teams across time zones, which started long before the outbreak.
We encourage our business partners to do distributed work. We have been a telecoms company for some time. This is the future vision predicted by Steve Jobs in an interview in 1990. This may explain why forcing people to go out to work can break down cross functional communication barriers and bring better results.
So far, almost all of us have been working completely remotely for more than a year. We have developed two major versions of all operating systems, organized two complete WWDC, launched a large number of new products, and are moving towards the direction of independent research and development of chips, and supporting our customers with the same level of care as before. In the past 15 months, we have experimented with flexible work under more extreme conditions, and we have been very successful in doing so. We have found that teleworking has brought many of our colleagues the following benefits:
Diversity and inclusiveness in retention and employment
Break the communication barriers that existed in the past
Better work life balance
Better integration of existing telecommuting Technology
Reduce the spread of pathogens
We ask for your support, so that those who want to work remotely can continue to work in a flexible way, so that everyone can figure out what kind of work setting is best for them, their team and their role, whether it’s in one of our offices, at home or in a hybrid solution. We are living evidence that there is no one size fits all policy for all.
For inclusiveness and diversity to work, we have to recognize how different each of us is, and what these differences bring about are different needs and different ways to thrive. We believe that Apple has both the responsibility to recognize these differences and the ability to fully accept them. Formally allowing individual management chains and individual teams to make decisions that best suit their team roles, individuals, and needs, as an officially stated policy, rather than a rare individual exception, will ease many of our current concerns.
We understand that inertia is real and it is difficult to change the status quo. But the epidemic that forced us to work at home gives us a unique opportunity. Most of the changes have taken place, and the remote flexible way of working has become the current “new normal”. We just need to make sure that we can make full use of it now. We believe that Apple has the ability to become a leader in this field. Instead of announcing “everyone can always work at home” as some other companies have done, Apple has announced an official broad paradigm policy that allows individual leaders to make decisions so that their team can do the best job in their lives. We firmly believe that now is the ideal time to “burn the boat”, because there is no choice in the future.
We have collected some requests and action items to help continue the dialogue and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard:
1) We formally require apple to regard the decision-making of remote flexible office as the decision-making of the team, just like the recruitment decision-making;
2) We formally require a short survey to be conducted on a regular basis throughout the company to establish a clear and transparent communication and feedback process within the company, organization and team;
3) We formally request to add a question about the staff turnover caused by telework in the exit interview;
4) We formally require a transparent and clear action plan to meet the needs of people with disabilities through flexible working methods of on-site, off-site, remote, mixed or other locations;
5) We are formally asking for an understanding of the environmental impact of returning to the site to work face-to-face and how permanent telecommuting can offset this impact（ Tencent technology reviser / Jinlu)