An internal employee survey at Apple shows a persistent concern over company’s hybrid work model

In early June, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, confirmed that the company’s plans to have people back in the office were moving forward. Namely, the company would be leaning into a “hybrid” work-from-home and in the office experience for its corporate employees. But, even with this newfound flexibility, some employees aren’t thrilled.

According to a report today from The Verge, a survey created by employees at Apple was distributed internally amongst themselves. This wasn’t a sanctioned survey made by Apple’s executives. Instead, it was an unofficial effort from employees themselves, where more than 1,000 participated. That’s admittedly a small number compared to Apple’s employee pool that numbers almost 150,000. Still, it’s a glimpse at how many within the company feel about Apple’s plans.

Apple believes in an in-person working experience. As Cook himself has said, it’s part of the company’s culture and an important element of Apple’s future moving forward. Still, a hybrid work model is important in these times, especially as the Delta variant of COVID-19 surges across the globe. Some people are still afraid to go back to in-person work. And Apple isn’t forcing employees to get vaccinated (simply encouraging them to do so), and isn’t requiring everyone to wear masks in the office, either.

So it makes sense that some employees would be hesitant to return. Even if it is for just three days a week. Apple’s new hybrid work model for corporate employees will be just that: three days in the office, and then working from home the rest of their work schedule for the week.

From the report:

In the survey, which was sent out in early June, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they ‘strongly agree’ with the statement ‘location-flexible working options are a very important issue to me.’ A total of 1,749 people answered the question. Employees defined ‘location-flexible’ as the option to work from home indefinitely.

And in another question:

In response to the statement ‘I am worried that some of my colleagues will have to leave Apple due to LACK of location-flexible work options,’ 58.5 percent said they ‘strongly agree.’ A total of 1,743 people answered the question. A smaller portion — 36.7 percent — said they are worried they’ll have to resign due to the lack of flexibility.

The survey was sent to Cook and Deidre O’Brien, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Retail and People, on June 14. That was less than two weeks after Cook’s initial announcement regarding corporate employees returning to in-person work, albeit in a limited capacity, beginning in September of this year. Apparently 24 employees also included personal video testimonies advocating for work-from-home options on a more permanent basis.

Meanwhile, in related news, Apple is working on another hybrid option, but this one’s for its retail employees. A recent Bloomberg report outlined how Apple is going to test a “Hybrid Flex” option beginning later this year. From that report:

Creating such a program is an acknowledgment that the trend of greater online shopping accelerated by Covid-19 may continue despite economic re-openings and vaccine availability in many parts of the world. Workers will move between their store and remote roles depending on demand in stores versus online shopping during a particular period, the people said.

Apple executives appear to be bending as much as they believe they can in this regard. But whether or not it’s good enough really comes down to the employees it impacts the most.

What do you think? Should Apple be a bit more lenient in this, and allow some employees to work from home without a requirement to come into the office for a bit longer? Maybe even into 2022? Or is the hybrid option the company has developed a good starting point?