Apple to compel workers to spend '3 days a week' in the office

Mandate starts in September, staff say its about 'fear of worker autonomy'

Apple has told its workforce they must come into the office for at least three days a week from September to get back to "in-person collaboration."

According to an internal memo, CEO Tim Cook said being in the same room as a colleague was "essential" to Apple's culture.

In the missive sent on Monday, Steve Job's replacement said staff near HQ and surrounding offices should make sure they were at basecamp on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Team managers get to pick the third day when employees are expected in the office, according to the memo reported in the Financial Times.

Cook said: "We are excited to move forward with the pilot and believe that this revised framework will enhance our ability to work flexibly while preserving the in-person collaboration that is so essential to our culture."

He also admitted the company had "a lot to learn" and was "committed to listening, adapting and growing together in the weeks and months ahead," hinting that the mandate may be adjusted.

Some employees might be forgiven for questioning the global tech and media behemoth's listening powers.

In an open letter published in May, a group calling itself Apple Together said Apple's work-from-home (WFH) policy was motivated by fear.

"You have characterized the decision for the Hybrid Working Pilot as being about combining the 'need to commune in-person' and the value of flexible work," the letter says. "But in reality, it does not recognize flexible work and is only driven by fear. Fear of the future of work, fear of worker autonomy, fear of losing control."

In March, Cook outlined a plan to have Apple employees who had been working from home return to the office following a COVID-19-enforced WFH period. This backfired somewhat when Apple's insistance on a return to office like caused its director of machine learning Ian Goodfellow to resign and jump ship to Google.

Apple staff are not the only ones doubting the efficacy of mandatory back-to-office plans.

In June, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told a company conference in New York that "office mandates are never going to work," according to Yahoo! Finance.

Still, Cook has on his side Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon – who has taken several opportunities to insist that his staff get back to the office full time – and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insisted the temptation of coffee and cheese was too much for effective home working.

Apple declined to comment. ®

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