Is the cult of Mac drying up? Apple confronts antagonists

  • Workers at Apple have been sharing their disgruntlement increasingly in 2021.
  • Some employees criticized the company’s remote work policy, while others quit. And Apple hired a controversial former Facebook worker, only to fire him after employees voiced their displeasure.
  • Is this the beginning of an Apple-employee revolt?

Apple’s notoriously loyal employees seem to be turning against the tech giant. In recent weeks, the tech giant has been criticized for everything from the new work-from-home policy to hiring practices to politics.

Incidents include:

  1. Apple adjusting its “remote/location-flexible work policy,” which now requires employees to spend time in the office.
  2. The questionable hire of Antonio García Martínez, a former product manager at Facebook.
  3. Workers calling for the company to release a statement in support of Palestine.

Clearly, Apple is no longer the sacred and untouchable entity swathed in secrecy; formerly tight-lipped workers are finding their voices and exercising cancel-culture. The “cult of Mac” may be drying up.

Apple employees outraged over remote working policy change

Apple had remained mum regarding its future work-from-home policy — and now we know why.

Employees at Apple voiced their displeasure over the company’s new remote work policy, which would require employees to be in the office three days a week starting in September, according to a new report, which cites a letter addressed to CEO Tim Cook. Apple’s top gun stressed the importance of in-person collaboration, something he’s suggested in the past.

“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,” Cook said, via The Verge. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

Most Apple employees will be asked to work from the physical offices on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, with an option of working remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Teams that need to work in-person will be required to come in for at least four days a week, with a full-week of the office being a possibility, the report said.

While Cook said that employees would be allowed to work fully remote for up to two weeks a year, that wasn’t what Apple employees were expecting; they want more flexibility to work remotely.

The lack of flexibility has even forced some workers to quit, according to the letter.

“Apple’s remote/location-flexible work policy, and the communication around it, have already forced some of our colleagues to quit,” the letter reads, according to The Verge. “Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.”

Cook had previously said that workers should expect a hybrid work environment, but left things open-ended when he emphasized the importance of being physically “in touch with one another because collaboration isn’t always a planned activity.”

Compared to other companies like Twitter and Facebook, which told employees they can work remotely forever, it seems that Apple is slowly returning to its no-work-from-home mantra that it preached prior to the pandemic.

An Apple hire that got fired

One of the biggest developments surrounding the reported unrest at Apple revolves around the hiring of Antonio García Martínez, a former product manager at Facebook.

García Martínez was hired by Apple in April as an engineer for the company’s advertising platforms team. His resume speaks for itself — until you read his book, “Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley.” The book, published in 2016, chronicles García Martínez’s brash journey through Silicon Valley. Some Apple employees became concerned about it, according to several outlets.

Here’s one passage via CNN:

“Most women in the Bay Area are soft and weak, cosseted and naive despite their claims of worldliness, and generally full of s**t,” read a sentence in one passage from “Chaos Monkeys.” It continued, “They have their self-regarding entitlement feminism, and ceaselessly vaunt their independence, but the reality is, come the epidemic plague or foreign invasion, they’d become precisely the sort of useless baggage you’d trade for a box of shotgun shells or a jerry can of diesel.”

The Verge reported that more than 2,000 employees’ signatures were on a letter that included excerpts from the book that argued García Martínez’s writing went against Apple’s inclusion mission.

The letter said that the hiring of García Martínez “calls into question parts of our system of inclusion at Apple, including hiring panels, background checks, and our process to ensure our existing culture of inclusion is strong enough to withstand individuals who don’t share our inclusive values,” according to the report.

Shortly after the letter was leaked, García Martínez was fired — later that day.

Pressure on Apple to release a statement about Palestine

Employees at Apple sent an internal letter that called for CEO Tim Cook to publicly condemn violence against Palestine, according to the outlet.

Nearly 1,000 employees penned the letter, which was initiated by the Apple Muslim Association, asking the tech giant to make a statement in support of Palestinian people in the midst of the ongoing turmoil between Israel and Hamas, which has resulted in the deaths of 243 people in Gaza and 12 people in Israel.

An excerpt from the letter reads: “We are frustrated and disappointed because once more, many of those in positions of power and influence — who boldly stand for human rights in so many other just causes — either choose to remain silent or release ineffectually neutral “both sides” statements with regards to the Palestinian situation.”

The letter was sent on May 17, but Apple has remained quiet, according to the report.

Slack and secrecy at Apple

The report says that times are changing for employees at the once tight-lipped tech giant, just like it has at many other companies in Silicon Valley. Employees credited the introduction of Slack in 2019 as allowing workers to speak freely and with one another, which has enabled them to find a voice together.

“Apple’s secrecy works great for protecting our customers and our products, but it hinders inclusion and diversity,” said an anonymous employee in the report. “There’s a lack of education around what is confidential versus what is your protected speech and you should speak up about.”