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Apple employees claim the company is not budging on plans to institute a hybrid work model for corporate workers and is in some cases denying work-from-home exceptions, including one accommodation covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Citing an internal Slack thread, The Verge reports Apple employees are threatening to quit due to what they perceive as overly strict rules regarding remote work policies.
In June, Apple announced a hybrid work schedule that will see employees return to the office for three days a week starting in September, a shift toward normal corporate operations after the pandemic forced a lengthy work-from-home period. Days later, participants of what is assumed to be the same remote work advocacy Slack channel cited by The Verge asked more flexibility, saying that working from home brings a number of benefits including greater diversity and inclusion in retention and hiring, tearing down previously existing communication barriers, better work life balance, better integration of existing remote / location-flexible workers, and reduced spread of pathogens.
That request was flatly denied. In a video to employees late last month, SVP of retail and people Deirdre O'Brien toed the company line on remote work policies, saying, "We believe that in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future. 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."
Apple's corporate ideology has long held that employee commingling is a vital ingredient to innovation. Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was such a proponent of the philosophy that he helped design Apple Park's main building — effectively a large ring — to facilitate serendipitous encounters.
With plans to enact the hybrid model moving forward, employees now claim Apple is denying exceptions to the in-office rule that it once allowed. For example, one unnamed employee who is currently allowed to work at home through an ADA accommodation said that Apple will deny the exception in September.
"I will be out of a job in September," the person wrote in the Slack channel that now has some 6,000 members.
Apple will apparently make exceptions for people with documented medical conditions, but acquiring that accommodation reportedly requires employees to confirm their status by releasing medical records to the company. The demand made some people uncomfortable, the report said.
Employees are now discussing how best to respond, whether it be through another letter or legal action. About 10 people plan to resign or know others who will resign due to the hybrid policy, the report said.
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