Apple pushes Bay Area employees into stringent return-to-office plan

Photo of Joshua Bote
Aerial photo of Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Aerial photo of Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Brandon Williams/Getty Images/iStockphoto

After months of delays and consternation from employees, Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, has finally implemented its hybrid return-to-office plan, among one of the most stringent in an industry that has embraced remote work.

Apple corporate employees in the Bay Area are now required to go into the office three times a week starting Sept. 5 — and will be required to come in every Tuesday and Thursday. (The third day will be determined on a per team basis by a manager.) The news was first reported Tuesday by Bloomberg and the Verge.

“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an internal memo obtained by the Verge. (A spokesperson for Apple did not respond to a request for comment from SFGATE.)

The return-to-office plan, which required workers to come in Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, was first announced last June. And as the plan continued to get pushed back — largely due to case spikes during the pandemic — employees grew increasingly resentful of the company and spoke out, not just of their anger with the push back to the office but of larger company culture issues.

Of the so-called FAANG companies — Meta (previously known as Facebook), Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google (also known as Alphabet) — Apple has been the most adamant that employees return to the office, despite employee protestations. Employees formed a coalition to demand more flexibility in their working conditions.

The only other FAANG company to require employees be in the office three times a week is Google. While Google has required employees be in the office three times a week since April, its policy does not have particulars on what days employees need to be in the office. And even still, employees balked internally at the arbitrary implementation of the policy.

It appears increasingly likely, however, that economic headwinds in the tech industry will embolden more executives to push against the flexible working models that were popularized during the pandemic. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg have publicly shamed employees for not working hard enough during internal staff meetings, despite the issue largely being corporate overstaffing.

On the same day Apple's return-to-office policy was announced, the company laid off contract recruiters in its push to slow hiring, Bloomberg reported.