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The Apple Together group has published an open letter objecting to Apple’s requiring people to return to working in the office, and argues that Steve Jobs would have listened to them.
Apple Together is the group of Apple employees that began with the #AppleToo movement, and which organized a retail walkout on December 24, 2021. As employees return to their offices following Apple’s mandate in April 2022, the group has written an open letter protesting against the move.
“Thoughts on Office-bound Work,” is an 1,800-word letter published simultaneously in English, Portugese, Spanish, and German. It concerns the return to work and specifically Apple’s plan for Hybrid Working, where staff split their week between their homes and the office.
“The Hybrid Working Pilot is not an increase in flexibility,” says the letter, “it is a smokescreen and often a step back in flexibility for many of our teams… [Requiring] everyone to relocate to the office their team happens to be based in, and being in the office at least 3 fixed days of the week, will change the makeup of our workforce.”
“[It] will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not the best fit,” it continues. “Privileges like ‘being born in the the right place so you don’t have to relocate,’ or ‘being young enough to start a new life in a new city/country’ or ‘having a stay-at-home spouse who will move with you’.”
Consequently, continues the Apple Together group, this will lead to a decrease in diversity. “It will make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied…,” continues the letter.
“We tell all of our customers how great our products are for remote work, yet, we ourselves, cannot use them to work remotely?” says the letter. “How can we expect our customers to take that seriously? How can we understand what problems of remote work need solving in our products, if we don’t live it?”
“Or as Steve [Jobs] said: ‘It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.'”
“Here we are,” says the letter, “the smart people that you hired, and we are telling you what to do: Please get out of our way, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, let us decide how we work best, and let us do the best work of our lives.”
Apple has not responded to the letter. However, following a similar request to continue working from home in July 2022, Apple’s senior vice president of retail and people, Deirdre O’Brien, advocated returning to the office.
“We believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future,” she said. “If we take a moment to reflect on our unbelievable product launches this past year, the products and the launch execution were built upon the base of years of work that we did when we were all together in-person.”