Apple Employees Criticize Return-to-Work Plan, Call for More Flexibility

In an open letter, employees say Apple's hybrid plan offers "almost no flexibility at all."

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A group of Apple employees is demanding more flexibility from the tech giant ahead of its planned return to office work later this month. In an open letter, the group, calling itself Apple Together, said the company's plan for many employees to be in the office three fixed days a week offers "almost no flexibility at all" and could be damaging to diversity. 

"The Hybrid Working Pilot is not an increase in flexibility, it is a smokescreen and often a step back in flexibility for many of our teams," reads the letter, which was posted Friday and earlier reported by CNN. "We are not asking for everyone to be forced to work from home. We are asking to decide for ourselves, together with our teams and direct manager, what kind of arrangement works best for each one of us, be that in an office, work from home, or a hybrid approach."

Like other tech companies, Apple delayed its return-to-office plans several times amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The iPhone maker now expects many employees to work in office at least three days a week by May 23, reported Bloomberg, though some teams may be required to be in the office more often. 

Apple has already faced public pushback from some employees who've asked it to consider more-flexible work options, though the company's leadership has stressed that it believes in-person collaboration is essential

About 200 employees are engaging in the Apple Together group, according to CNN, a small portion of the company's US workforce. The group says Apple has 100,000 direct employees in the US, including retail workers. 

The Apple Together group also alleged that the hybrid plan could change the makeup of Apple's workforce, saying it will make the company "younger, whiter, more male-dominated," by squeezing out those who can't relocate for a position or afford to pay for family care. In the letter, the group also said the hybrid plan doesn't reflect the message Apple sends to customers that its products are great for remote work. 

"We tell all of our customers how great our products are for remote work," reads the letter, "yet, we ourselves, cannot use them to work remotely? How can we expect our customers to take that seriously?"