WSJ highlights how Apple’s culture of secrecy makes shifting to remote work problematic

As part of Apple’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, its chief executive Tim Cook last Saturday encouraged employees to work from home. However, the Cupertino company seems to have hit some bumps along the road in shifting its global workforce to remote work.

In moving to flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China, Cook was quoted as saying in the announcement that team members should work remotely “if their job allows”.

But according to a Wall Street Journal report published last Saturday, the company’s culture of secrecy is interfering with shifting some of its employees to remote work, with some of them unable to access critical internal systems while at home for security purposes.

In recent days, software developers sent home by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook have complained of slow download speeds and mounting confusion over still-evolving new internal rules about what work they are allowed to perform, staffers say. Some workers can’t access crucial internal systems from home due to strict security policies meant to fend off outsiders — which now includes off-site employees.

For a company of Apple’s size and influence, this was entirely expected.

Some company employees in the industrial design and user interface teams who work on secretive projects that are yet to see the light of day may never be able to work remotely.

Though Apple has encouraged staff to stay away from the office for health reasons, many engineers say they continue to come into headquarters, heeding company policy that forbids unreleased products from being removed from campus.

The report notes that Apple has begun performing daily health screenings at the security desk for all staff on campus in order to lower the density and boost social distancing.]

Additionally, it’s apparently loosened some security restrictions to make shifting to remote work as painless as possible. Nevertheless, tight restrictions continue to apply to any software that might “reveal the nature of off-limits projects”, according to Apple staffers.

You can read the full report over at the Wall Street Journal.