Apple executive quits over tech giant's return-to-work policy

The head of machine learning believes 'strongly' in a more flexible approach

Apple executive quits over tech giant's return-to-work policy

An executive from tech giant Apple has left the company allegedly for its return-to-work policy, according to reports. The said executive was identified as Ian Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning, reported Zoë Schiffer of The Verge on Twitter.

"I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team," said Goodfellow in a note to staff that was seen by Schiffer.

It comes as Apple was set to update its return-to-office scheme by mandating employees to work in-person three times a week - on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays - starting May 23.

However, this move was recently delayed indefinitely amid a reported spike of COVID-19 cases, Bloomberg reported.

This means that employees remain mandated to return to office twice a week, a policy implemented since May 4. In response to the spike of COVID cases, Apple also began requiring employees to wear face masks in all common areas.

Prior to the delay, Apple has been receiving criticism for its return-to-work policy that has been observed as more rigid than those implemented by other tech giants.

For Goodfellow, it has been reported by Bloomberg that he is joining Alphabet's DeepMind.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has been asking its employees in the San Francisco Bay Area to return to work starting April.

Read more: Apple employees still hesitant to return to office: report

Executing return-to-office schemes

A lot of employees feel hesitant about returning to workplaces after spending over a year at home working and figuring out their routines.

Beyond the concerns over getting exposed to COVID-19, employees are also hesitant of leaving their remote setup that they have accustomed to.

Mark Lang, head of Colliers' Return to the office task force, previously spoke with HRD on how HR should execute their return-to-office schemes.

"We're emphasising with all of our people not just to respect everybody's different points of view but also support one another," he told HRD in an interview. "It's been a difficult two years for everybody, so as we come back and reintegrate, it's vital for us to lead with empathy."

He also stressed that it is important for organisations to keep their people well-informed and keeping the dialog going with the people.

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