Assessing the Remote Work Controversy at Apple

John Gruber’s take on the internal letter regarding Apple’s new remote work policy has sparked a lot of criticism in the community. Zac Hall, writing at 9to5Mac, offers what I think is a measured and reasonable critique of the issues at hand:

My guess is that simply choosing Thursday and Friday as optional remote days would provide too little friction for employees who choose to work this way. A more generous reading is that this formula optimizes for productivity based on data we don’t have. Tim Cook is also careful to describe the planned remote work policy as a pilot program that is subject to change. I take this to mean that optional remote work days could be reduced or eliminated if whatever metric Apple is measuring is too low.

Any condoned remote work is a big change for Apple, so I’m hopeful that the pilot period will result in more flexibility, not less. But I also can’t help but wonder if it’s truly a pilot, why not start with a majority remote days per week?

Zac views John’s dismissal of the letter as missing the point:

Next, suggesting that open communication between employees about the workforce that they make up is somehow the bigger problem is mighty off. If it weren’t Slack, it would be an email chain or groups of vocal employees who organize together. I think there’s a dangerous line being drawn when you question whether a vocal workforce is a feature or a bug.

I agree — employees having a mechanism to be heard is important, but in the end it only matters if their leadership team is listening.

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