For Apple, the remote work of its employees during the pandemic has been inevitable. The company now plans return to a hybrid model of face-to-face and remote work, denying the undefined remote model requested by some employees. The vast majority of employees will have to go to their corresponding offices three days a week starting in September.

Goodbye to indefinite remote work

With the pandemic, many Apple employees they applied for remote work permanent. Numerous companies from all sectors have taken the opportunity to test the model and have been satisfied with the experience. However, the Cupertino-based company is convinced of the usefulness of working together with other employees.

As The Verge, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Retail, has learned Deirdre O’Brien has released the company’s position in an internal video:

Deirdre O'Brien

Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s SVP of People and Retail.

We believe that collaboration in person is essential to our culture and our future. As we reflect on the incredible launches this past year, the products and launch execution were based on the foundation of work that we have built when we were all together in person.

Last month, Apple was already preparing for the return to the office Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at least, leaving the rest of the days with the possibility of remote work. Some employees wrote a letter claiming 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 undefined remote model to interested employees. The new model will start next September, which employees who wish to do so will be able to take advantage of it.

The irreplaceable creativity of casual encounters

Apple ParkApple Park

Judging from O’Brien’s words, everything points to Apple has managed to struggle and obtain good results with their releases despite of remote work. Not thanks to the work in remote. A nuance of great importance for a company of these characteristics.

The chance encounters and ideas that arise when you chat with other colleagues are very valuable to Apple and would be impossible on a remote model

Why is Apple so concerned about this matter? After all, remote working has worked in 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 the Pixar offices in the early 2000s. Something that we can now move to Apple Park:

If a building doesn’t encourage collaboration, you’ll lose much of the innovation and magic that sparkles with serendipity. So we designed a building to get people to come out of their offices and gather in the central atrium with other people they might not otherwise see.

Apple Park is not Apple’s only office. But it does follow the model that 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. This is why face-to-face work is so important to Apple. They have not returned to a 100% physical model and they recognize part of the advantages of teleworking, which is why it is a hybrid system. With it, they ensure that remote work days will be limited to Wednesday and Friday at most.

Deirdre O'Brien explains the necessary balance between virtual and in-person work in a new interview

Some workers may have hoped to stay with the company by living in other cities or countries, with occasional visits to offices. Some will prefer to leave Apple before going back to work at the office and that it is a risk that the company is willing to take.

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