When Tim Cook sent his workforce home in March 2020, calling coronavirus a “challenging moment”, it is unlikely the Apple chief executive anticipated that he would have a battle on his hands to get those workers back to the office two and a half years later. It took just a few days for Apple’s employees to hit out against the tech giant’s demand for staff to return three days a week from September. A group calling itself AppleTogether warned on Monday there should be no “uniform mandate from senior leadership”, while a Slack channel advocating for remote work at Apple has grown to 10,000 members.
Why Does it Matter
The move by Apple, a bellwether of Silicon Valley, has led to growing disquiet across tech workers on whether their company will follow. While Big Tech companies were quick to send their workers home at the onset of the pandemic, the sector has been markedly less decisive in calling everybody back over concerns it could trigger an exodus of top talent. Some workers have been emboldened by the tight labour market, which has boosted demand for highly-sought after tech jobs. Figures from Morning Consult, the data analytics group, suggest around half of all tech workers were fully remote by 2022, with most showing no interest in a full-time return.
Other tech companies are ready to attract any disgruntled workers. According to data from ZipRecruiter, the percentage of job openings in the tech sector offering fully-remote conditions has jumped — from 12 per cent in 2019, to 39 per cent so far in 2022. Among the beneficiaries are companies like Oyster, a HR platform, which helps companies manage remote workforces — including its own. Tony Jamous, Oyster’s chief executive, said the muddled picture at some big tech firms was a “crisis of leadership” due to fears over losing control.