Apple Corporate Employees Expected to Return to Office April 11 | Hybrid Plan

Tim Cook Apple Event Credit: Apple
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With Apple’s retail stores returning to some sense of normalcy, the company has now set a date for its corporate employees to return to Apple Park and its other U.S. corporate offices.

Apple has made several false starts on this one over the past year or so, announcing return-to-work dates when it looked like the pandemic was waning, only to be forced to push them off when cases surged once again.

To be fair, it’s been far from alone in riding that roller coaster, but this time it seems like the return to work date may finally be carved in stone. At least we’re certainly hoping so, since it indirectly represents a return to normal life for all of us.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Bloomberg Terminal, Apple has set a date of April 11, 2022 for all of its U.S. employees. It’s not yet clear whether the same date will apply to international offices, or even if Apple has set a date for those locations at all.

Following Gurman’s Tweet, The Verge shared an internal memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook that it had seen. This memo confirms the April 11 return date, while also revealing that Apple plans to phase in the somewhat controversial hybrid work pilot program that it had developed for its corporate employees.

Apple’s Hybrid Work Plan

As part of Apple’s return-to-work call last June, the company announced that it would require staff to be in the office three days per week, in what the company called a “hybrid work program.”

Despite Tim Cook’s prior optimism about remote work, Apple’s executives felt that Apple’s culture just isn’t well-suited to its employees never showing their faces at the office. They maintain that face time is necessary for creativity and productive collaboration.

While there’s room for debate whether this should be true for every role, it’s fair to say that Apple’s engineers, designers, and other creative teams probably do benefit more from this. Then, of course, there’s also the aspect of Apple’s culture of secrecy — it’s not like it can allow its engineers to take prototype iPhones off-campus with them to work on at home. After all, we’ve seen how well that’s worked out in the past.

As it was originally proposed, Apple would have allowed employees to work remotely on Wednesday and Fridays, but they would have been required to be in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays — regardless of the nature of their work.

The only flexibility beyond that was that Apple would allow staff to work from home for two weeks per year, subject to the approval of their manager. Apple said this would permit employees to “be closer to family and loved ones, find a change of scenery, manage unexpected travel,” although it added that it could really be for any reason, as long as their team leaders agreed that it could be worked out in such a way that they could remain productive.

From the beginning, this was to be a pilot project that would have been re-evaluated after a few months, but it nonetheless proved unpopular with some Apple employees.

By all accounts, this was a small but vocal minority, but they raised enough of a ruckus to make Apple at least decide that it would be a good idea to phase the new plan in, rather than expect everybody to start up with it on the first day back.

In November, when Apple still hoped that employees would be returning to work by February 1, 2022, Cook sent out a memo to let them know that it would be doubling the annual work-from-home allotment from two weeks to four weeks, and that it would start the new program a bit more slowly.

Specifically, employees would be expected to work their way up to three days per week over the course of a month or so. At the time, this would have seen employees coming into the office for one or two days per week in February before being required to hit the three-day mark by sometime in March.

Even though the return to work date has been pushed back to April 11, it appears that this is still basically the plan, although Cook has laid it out in more detail.

  • As things now stand, on April 11 employees will only need to show up one day per week, continuing to work from home for the other four.
  • Then, by the third week — presumably the week of April 25, this will move to two days per week.
  • By May 23, the hybrid pilot program will begin in full, with staff expected to be in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, exactly as Apple originally stated when it first announced the program last year.

In the memo, Cook also notes that many of the facilities at Apple Park are now open, and encourages employees to come in before April 11, even if it’s just “to grab coffee with a colleague” at a Caffè Mac.

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