Apple asks staff to return to office three days a week starting in early September


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple employees are being asked to return to the office three days a week starting in early September. Tim Cook sent out an email Wednesday informing staff of the change.

“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,” he 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.

In the letter Wednesday, Cook also 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.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.