Too little, too late: Apple rolls back remote work policy after machine learning head turns away from alphabet

Image for article titled Too Little Too Late: Apple reverses remote work policy after machine learning head pulls out of Alphabet

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Well that’s clumsy. One of Apple’s most prominent back-to-the-office critics has reportedly landed a new gig at Alphabet’s DeepMind, marking the latest drama over Big Tech’s remote work brawls. Ironically, this move comes around the same time Apple decided to reverse its latest push back to the office.

In an internal memo seen by Bloomberg on Tuesday, the company said it would delay its three-day office work requirement which is set to take effect May 23. The memo allegedly cited the recent rise in covid-19 cases for the delay and did not provide any specific date for when they would try again. Apple employees are still required to work in the office two days a week and will now be required to wear masks in common areas.

Meanwhile, Ian Goodfellow, Apple’s former machine learning director, who abruptly left the company at least in part because of its remote working restrictions, will would have join Alphabet’s DeepMind. Sources told Bloomberg Goodfellow that he would be joining DeepMind as an “individual contributor.” He previously worked as a senior researcher at Google in 2019.

The job change marks a blow to Apple, a company that has struggled to appease workers who disagree with its return-to-work strategy. Goodfellow, who is the longest-serving member known to have given up remote work so far, reportedly address the issue directly in a memo to staff obtained by Zoë Schiffer of The Verge. “I strongly believe that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” Goodfellow reportedly wrote.

Goodfellow’s departure came around the same time a group of Apple employees wrote a open letter to company executives criticizing policies that she said were “fear-driven.”

“We are not asking that everyone be forced to work from home,” the letter said. “We ask to decide for ourselves, with our teams and our direct manager, what type of arrangement is best for each of us, whether in an office, working from home or in a hybrid approach. treat us like school children who need to be told when to be where and what homework to do.

Workers, more than ever, are ready to abandon their companies in favor of workplace flexibility. According to an April ADP reportnearly two-thirds (64%) of US workers served said they would consider looking for a new job if forced to return to a full-time office.

Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

It’s worth noting that Alphabet hasn’t fully embraced a remote desktop first either. Google, the conglomerate’s largest workforce, moved to a hybrid workweek in April that mandatory employees to work from their desks three days a week. This looks quite similar to Apple’s proposal, although previous reports suggest that Google approves remote requests more regularly. Since last August, the company reportedlily approved 85% of employees’ telecommuting or relocation requests. Gizmodo reached out to DeepMind for more details on its remote work approval process, but they declined to comment.

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