Half of Apple Employees Plan to Quit Over Return-to-Office Policy, Blind Survey Says

Apple may be facing an exodus of staff who are unhappy with having to come back into the office.
Tim Cook Apple CEO 2021 Credit: Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock
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After a two-year furlough of working at home, Apple employees began to slowly return to the office last month, and not surprisingly, some aren’t too happy about the change.

After several delays, Apple carved a final return date in stone in March, announcing that all employees would be expected to begin returning to Apple Park on April 11.

An internal memo from Tim Cook that leaked out at the time revealed that the return to work would be phased in gradually to help employees transition back to the office for its “hybrid work program.”

  1. Starting April 11, employees would only need to show up one day per week while continuing to work from home for the other four.
  2. By the week of April 25, this would increase to two days per week. This is presumably the stage that Apple employees are at right now.
  3. Later this month, on May 23, the full hybrid pilot program would be in place, with employees expected to be in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. They would be allowed to work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays.

This final stage is precisely the plan Apple announced nearly a year ago. The only modification is that the company has decided to take baby steps to help employees get accustomed to coming back into the office.

When Apple originally announced this hybrid work plan, it was met with resistance from some quarters. Despite this, Apple has remained firm on its policy. Although the return date has been pushed back several times, that’s been a result of rising COVID-19 cases, not a case of Apple knuckling under pressure from its employees.

With over 12,000 employees at its Apple Park campus alone and 150,000 worldwide, it’s hard to say how much opposition there truly is to Apple’s return-to-work policies.

Last year, a group of 80 employees, ostensibly representing 2,800 “remote work advocates” from an internal company chat room, penned a letter accusing Apple of hypocrisy. The group claimed that Apple’s stance on remote work was in direct opposition to its stated policies on diversity and inclusion, particularly for employees with disabilities.

Now that the return-to-work policy is coming into force, some would have us believe that Apple may be facing an exodus of staff who are unhappy with having to come back into the office three days per week.

According to Chloe Berger in Fortune, 76 percent of Apple workers surveyed said they were “dissatisfied with Apple’s return-to-office policy,” and 56 percent said they are planning to leave Apple “expressly because of its office requirement.” Although, that doesn’t mean they’ll carry through on that.

There’s also one pretty big problem with this survey: Only 652 Apple employees responded. The anonymous social network Blind conducted the survey from April 13 to 19, so it’s not only a pretty small sample group but also a relatively short timeframe. It was also only days after employees had to start coming back — and only one day per week at that point.

Although the survey was anonymous, Blind did verify employee work status by the respondent’s Apple corporate email address.

It’s also unclear whether these workers are all located at Apple Park. Even interns and part-time Apple Retail employees get an @apple.com email address. There’s no way for Blind or anybody else to validate someone’s position without access to Apple’s corporate directory of employees.

For example, at least one of the posts on Blind in March came from an employee that had only been with Apple for three weeks. Several others are also clearly short-term employees, many of whom joined during the remote work era and likely never worked in one of Apple’s corporate offices.

It’s also unreasonable to expect that any company can keep all of its employees happy all the time. Apple has had just as much churn over the years as most other tech companies.

Apple’s stance on hybrid work also isn’t unique; while some companies have embraced a fully remote work strategy, that’s not true everywhere; Google has a nearly identical policy to Apple’s, yet we’ve heard no similar complaints coming from disgruntled Googlers… Perhaps some people are just expecting too much of Apple.

Still, with over 150,000 employees worldwide, 652 is not a very large number. Granted, about half of those employees are retail workers, but that still leaves around 75,000 corporate employees who would be affected by Apple’s return-to-work plans, and it’s fair to say most of those folks are in the “silent majority.”

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