An internal survey designed by Apple employees shows respondents want the option to work from home and fear their colleagues may have to leave if the company forces people back to the office.
In the survey, which was sent out in early June, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they “strongly agree” with the statement “location-flexible working options are a very important issue to me.” A total of 1,749 people answered the question. Employees defined “location-flexible” as the option to work from home indefinitely.
The news comes on the heels of Tim Cook’s announcement that Apple will be rolling out a new hybrid work model that will require employees to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. While the move is a big shift for Apple, which discouraged remote work prior to the pandemic, it’s still too strict for some workers. They say that without the option to work from home whenever they want, some will be forced to resign.
The survey is not scientific — it was sent out in a Slack channel for employees to discuss remote work, and only a tiny fraction of Apple’s 147,000-person workforce likely even knew it existed. But the fact that well over a thousand employees participated in a grassroots survey that wasn’t sanctioned by Apple executives is significant. It hints at a shift in Apple’s famously hierarchical culture.
In response to the statement “I am worried that some of my colleagues will have to leave Apple due to LACK of location-flexible work options,” 58.5 percent said they “strongly agree.” A total of 1,743 people answered the question. A smaller portion — 36.7 percent — said they are worried they’ll have to resign due to the lack of flexibility.
Employees sent the survey results to Cook and Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail and people, on June 14th. They included a video with personal testimonies from 24 Apple workers on why remote working options are important.
Two weeks later, Apple sent out a video doubling down on the hybrid model, saying “we believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”
The video irked some employees, who felt executives hadn’t listened to their perspective. Even employees who don’t want to work from home forever say the company needs to consider more flexibility while the Delta variant continues to surge.
While Apple is encouraging employees to get vaccinated, it’s not requiring everyone to wear masks in the office, saying instead that “choosing to wear a mask in places where protocols have been lifted is a personal decision.”
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.