Apple employees are being asked to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Apple CEO Tim Cook sent out an email Wednesday informing staff of the change. The Verge reported.
The development questions the sustainability of the work from home idea that was growing to become a tradition following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Many companies, including Google have made moves to return to normal work life. Apple is thus joining them in taking the bold step to bring workers back to the office.
“For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” Cook said. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”
Cook said that most employees will be asked to come in to the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with the option of working remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Teams that need to work in-person will return four to five days a week.
Employees also have the chance to work remotely for up to two weeks a year, “to be closer to family and loved ones, find a change of scenery, manage unexpected travel, or a different reason all your own,” according to the letter. Managers need to approve remote work requests.
The change is not entirely unexpected for Apple staff. While employees have worked remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, the company famously discouraged working from home prior to 2020. In December, Tim Cook told employees they could be asked to come back to the office as early as June, according to Bloomberg.
Apple’s stance on remote work, while getting more relaxed, is still conservative compared to the other tech giants. In May, Google announced that 20 percent of its workforce would be able to work from home permanently. Mark Zuckerberg has said that remote work “is the future,” and told Facebook employees they can all work from home forever, so long as they get their manager’s approval.
Amazon expects most U.S. corporate office workers back in the office by early fall, the company said in a memo to employees in March. It’s the latest update since Amazon said employees could continue to do their jobs from home through June 30.
While companies like Zillow and Microsoft still have plans for remote work in the near future, Apple, Google and Amazon’s recent move indicates that the working from home trend may never be going to stay after all.
With the United States making progress in its vaccine roll out, companies are beginning to frown at the hybrid idea. So far, 136 million (41.5%) of the population has been fully vaccinated with the government targeting to vaccinate 70% of US adults by July 4.
In the letter Wednesday, Cook encouraged all employees to get vaccinated.
“For now, let me simply say that I look forward to seeing your faces,” he said in closing. “I know I’m not alone in missing the hum of activity, the energy, creativity and collaboration of our in-person meetings and the sense of community we’ve all built.”
While many employees would prefer to work remotely, the eagerness to see life return to normal seems to be pushing employers to order them back to the office. The case is the same in other countries where the pandemic has been contained to a minimum. The idea of remote work, which was greatly touted as the future of work, is gradually fading away.