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Companies large and small have had to rethink their office-based work plans, with many opting for a remote working compromise. Google recently pushed back its own return-to-office plans, and its own deal is similar to that of Apple, but with a bit more flexibility.
While Apple appears unlikely to have a major rethink about its stance, it did last month offer one additional concession, and it strikes me that extending this could be a win-win for company and employees alike …
Apple and Google both have the same core policy: three days a week in the office, two days of remote working. Apple specifies the office-based days: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Google says staff must be in the office for three days a week, but teams can agree among themselves which days these are.
Some Apple employees asked for greater flexibility, including the option of full-time working from home where appropriate, but CEO Tim Cook was initially adamant that the company would not budge from its previously stated position.
Apple did offer one additional benefit: employees would – with the agreement of their manager – be able to take an additional two weeks a year of remote work. This was intended to allow staff to work while travelling, either visiting family and friends, or simply enjoying a change of scenery.
I made the case for greater flexibility back in July, but Apple made only one subsequent concession: the additional weeks of remote working was doubled from two weeks to four.
It’s here where I think there is scope for a further remote working compromise. Extending this offer to two months, or even three, could make disgruntled employees significantly happier about the deal, while still retaining the core three days a week the rest of the year.
I have personal experience of the value of this type of flexibility: I’ve worked from home for most of my life. I did get sucked into the corporate world for a little over a decade, but for most of my working life, I’ve had the freedom to work from wherever I wish.
To me, this is an absolutely huge benefit. First, because I adore my 10-second commute. But also because it allows me to travel while continuing to work. Pre-pandemic, I would take working holidays several times a year. I’ve visited cities as widespread as Buenos Aires, Boston, Cape Town, Las Vegas, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Vancouver, working in the mornings and holidaying in the afternoons (or vice-versa, depending on time zones). It means that I feel like I take a lot more vacation time than I actually do.
Extending the remote working benefit to two or three months would be a huge bonus for employees in terms of work-life balance. Some could use it to travel the country, or the world, enriching their lives that way. Others, who strongly value working from home, could enjoy that lifestyle for a decent chunk of the year.
Of course, the same riders I mentioned last time would still apply. There will be employees who need to be office-based most of the year, so some give and take would be needed on both sides. But those employees whose jobs can be done effectively from anywhere would get a considerable win, while still allowing Apple to protect its position of office-based work being the norm.
Photo: Avi Richards/Unsplash
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