Apple employees push back against company's return-to-office mandate

Petition against new requirements reportedly gains hundreds of signatures

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, US.  Bloomberg
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A small group of Apple employees have launched a petition challenging the tech company's September return-to-office order, several US news organisations have reported.

The move follows an internal email from chief executive Tim Cook that said employees should begin to report to the office three days a week, after more than two years of remote and hybrid work, Bloomberg first reported.

Mr Cook said employees at all offices around the world would have to work in person on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a third in-office day chosen by specific teams, starting the week of September 5, the companywide letter — reprinted by The Verge — showed.

The letter adds that employees will be able to log into work two days a week remotely and have the option of working remotely for as many as four weeks a year.

A group reportedly consisting of Apple employees called “Apple Together” is speaking out against the plans through a petition.

Apple Together argues that “this uniform mandate from senior leadership does not consider the unique demands of each job role nor the diversity of individuals”.

The petition makes two demands: that “Apple allows each of us to work directly with our immediate manager to figure out what kind of flexible work arrangements are best for each of us and for Apple [and] these work arrangements should not require higher-level approvals, complex procedures or providing private information”.

Apple tried to get employees to return to the office as early as July 2021, but the rise of the Delta coronavirus variant during the summer and autumn put a stop to those plans.

The spread of the Omicron variant in the winter also delayed Apple's reopening several times.

The company website states it has more than 80,000 employees and Apple Together's letter against “office-bound work” claims to have 1,445 signatures from current and former employees.

Updated: August 22, 2022, 4:20 PM