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Apple employee petition demands flexibility against return-to-office policy

Apple employees are continuing to object to Apple's order to return to working from its offices, with a petition demanding the iPhone maker continues to offer "location flexible work" to its staff.

Like other companies that put in place work-from-home schemes during the pandemic, Apple is struggling to get employees to agree to return to working from within its offices. The latest salvo in the battle of wills between employees and employer is a new petition, demanding Apple continues to be flexible in its working practices.

The worker group Apple Together started to internally circulate a petition on Sunday, reports the Financial Times. The petition has a series of demands to keep allowing employees to work from home, or wherever they want.

The petition is allegedly in response to an Apple management order from August 15 increasing the number of in-office days from two to three by September 5, as part of its hybrid work program.

According to the petition, Apple Together believes the "uniform mandate from senior leadership" doesn't respect the many "compelling reasons" for why employees are "happier and more productive" under the WFH measures.

In its demands, the group wants Apple employees to be able to work with their "immediate manager" on their working arrangements, instead of dealing with "high-level approvals" and "complex procedures."

The petition will reportedly be collecting signatures for a week before verification and delivery to executives. An employee involved with organizing the effort doesn't plan to release individual names publicly nor to executives "in light of retail union busting and recent reports of allegations of retaliation from HR."

While it is unclear how the petition will affect the decisions of executives, it seems that workers generally would prefer to maintain the flexibility. In one survey of Apple employees from April, 56% were actively seeking employment outside of Apple, with the return-to-office policy being the biggest driving force.

There's also been a high-profile departure, as director of machine learning Ian Goodfellow resigned in May after three years on the job. Goodfellow cited the return-to-office policy as one of the reasons for leaving.