For Apple, remote work by its employees during the pandemic has been unavoidable. The company now plans to return to a hybrid model of face-to-face and remote work, denying the indefinite remote model requested by some employees. The vast majority of employees will be required to come to their respective offices three days a week starting in September.

With the pandemic, many Apple employees requested permanent remote work. Numerous companies from all sectors have taken advantage of this model and have been satisfied with the experience. However, the Cupertino-based company is convinced of the usefulness of coworking with other employees.

Last month, Apple was already gearing up for back to the office Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at a minimum, leaving the rest of the days with the possibility of remote work. Some employees wrote a letter stating that this forced them to choose between a combination of their life, families or work at Apple. As a result, some employees had already left the company.

Apple reaffirms its position, denying the indefinite remote model to interested employees. The new model will start next September and will be open to all employees who wish to take advantage of it.

Everything points to the fact that Apple has managed to struggle and obtain good results with its launches in spite of remote work. No thanks to remote work. A nuance of great importance for such a company.

Why does Apple care so much about this issue? After all, remote working has worked for a multitude of companies. Facebook, for example, is one of the big tech companies that embraces indefinite telecommuting. The reason lies in something Steve Jobs said to his biographer Walter Isaacson on the occasion of the design of Pixar’s offices in the early 2000s. Something we can now translate to Apple Park:

If a building doesn’t foster collaboration, you lose much of the innovation and magic that sizzles with serendipity. So we designed a building to get people out of their offices and together in the central atrium with other people they wouldn’t otherwise see.

Apple Park is not Apple’s only office. But it does follow the model Jobs was looking for: common areas, no cubicles and a large central atrium. The perfect place for those casual encounters to turn into brilliant ideas when you least expect them. That’s why face-to-face work is so important to Apple. They haven’t gone back to a 100% physical model and recognize some of the advantages of telecommuting, which is why it’s a hybrid system. With it, they ensure that remote work days will be limited to Wednesday and Friday at most.

Some workers may have hoped to remain with the company by living in other cities or countries, with occasional office visits. A portion will prefer to leave Apple rather than return to work in the office, and that’s a risk the company is willing to take.

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