Apple closing down internal Slack channels where employees debate remote work

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Slack
Solve the problem or delete the channel?
Photo: Stephen Phillips/Unsplash CC

Apple is closing down internal Slack channels to stop employees discussing remote working options, reports Zoe Schiffer from The Verge.

Many Cupertino employees are currently engaged in a Cold War of sorts with their employer over the remote working arrangement coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. As the arguments flare up among staff, Apple has taken the step of shuttering the Slack channels where these are taking place.

“Apple … recently began cracking down on Slack channels that aren’t directly related to work,” Schiffer wrote on Twitter. “The company bans channels ‘for activities and hobbies’ that aren’t directly related to projects or part of official employee groups — but this wasn’t always enforced, employees say.”

The battle over remote working

In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that employees should get ready to return by early September. This is after more than one year working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple proposed a hybrid model in which employees would work at least three days a week in the office. The rest of the week would be spent working from home. It recently pushed these plans for an office return back until at least October. This was due to more coronavirus case flare-ups around the world.

But many Apple employees are none too happy about it. Two public letters from Apple employees have requested more flexible working conditions. A recent petition this month was shared on Apple’s internal Slack channel, with more than 6,000 members discussing remote work. It noted that:

“We continue to be concerned that this one-size-fits-all solution is causing many of our colleagues to question their future at Apple. With COVID-19 numbers rising again around the world, vaccines proving less effective against the delta variant, and the long-term effects of infection not well understood, it is too early to force those with concerns to come back to the office.”

According to Schiffer, “internally, [many] people feel like [Apple] isn’t listening to their demands.” She continues that: “Since Friday, three Apple employees have resigned specifically because of the remote work policies. One had been at the company for nearly 13 years. I’ve seen a bunch of these resignation notes and they’re pretty heart wrenching.”

Where things go from here

It remains to be seen what happens next: whether Apple softens its hybrid working model or some of the more vocal employee-critics back down (or quit.) However, removing Slack channels discussing the subject could be viewed as simply fanning the flames. If employees feel like Apple’s ignoring their requests, then deleting the platforms in which they discuss these matters isn’t going to be met with favorable responses.

What do you think the solution to this stand-off is? Has your own place of work had to rethink the way work is carried out as a result of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to the return to the office? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.