Apple’s hybrid work battle heralds new disputes between employers and staff

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  • A potential chasm could arise between staff and managers if they do not listen to their employees.
  • Apple’s recent battle with staff over remote working is proof of the battles businesses could face.
  • Hybrid work will require a more “human-centered” approach from leaders and workers.


Employee reluctance to return to work from Apple may be a sign of a “growing chasm” that could emerge between employers and staff if companies do not properly manage the return to the office.

After decades of employers having a say in where, when and how work is done, we have reached the other side of the spectrum over the past year, said Alexia Cambon, research director at Gartner.

“Employees have had more control over these dimensions of work and have realized how much these dimensions of work impact their lives,” she told Insider, generally commenting on the challenge employers will face. “Having to suddenly give up control over these feels incredibly personal. “

In June, around 80 Apple employees expressed frustration at feeling “unheard” and “ignored,” in an internal letter to CEO Tim Cook after he announced his intention to return to the office three days a week – on Mondays. , Tuesdays and Thursdays – from September.

Instead, these employees want those who are able to work remotely to be able to do so and say Apple’s policy has led some colleagues to resign.

The company appears to have doubled its position, despite these concerns.

According to The edgeApple UK senior vice president of retail and personnel Deirdre O’Brien said in a video recording that there would likely be few fully remote roles in the future.

Most people want flexibility to return to work

Employers around the world take a different approach to the post-coronavirus office world.

David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, for example called working from home an “aberration” and told staff to prepare for a widespread return to the physical office once restrictions on coronaviruses end.

Facebook, on the other hand, will allow all employees who can perform their role from home to do so.

Data from external surveys indicates that those who wish to work remotely full-time at Apple, which has more than 160,000 people worldwide, could be in the minority.

Only 11% of workers said they wanted to be totally removed in the future, according to a global survey of 5,043 full-time employees between December 2020 and January 2021 by McKinsey. Although a majority of respondents, 52% want flexible post-covid work.

Gartner research suggests that 68% of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic favor a hybrid model in the future, Cambon explains.

Managers still feel anxiety about visibility

Particular “teething issues” between staff and employers are likely to focus on location, Cambon said.

Much of the conversation about the importance of returning to the office is driven by the emphasis that the physical office is better for innovation and collaboration.

This goes against the experience of many employees working remotely, many of whom may have collaborated well, she added.

Organizations that implement “listening strategies” that provide employees with data and make those employees feel heard – and then design hybrids around that – are less likely to see battles emerge, she said. declared.

Gartner’s own research suggests that 45% of employees agree that their long-term preferences for flexible working aren’t taken seriously enough by management.

Likewise, McKinsey data suggests it could be harmful if companies are unclear on their post-pandemic plans: 47% of workers either agree or strongly agree that a lack of of clear vision of returning to the office worries them or worries them.


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