Apple as a Remote Company

Apple has never been very enthusiastic about having its employees telecommute. On MPU 538, James Thomson shared the story of how he, while employed as an Apple engineer, secretly worked from Scotland to the chagrin of Steve Jobs.

In the Apple Shareholder meeting yesterday, Tim Cook talked about remote work:

“We’ve been primarily remote since March of last year. We’ve got nearly a year under our belt right now, and I would tell you we’re still learning new things. I would say that I’m incredibly impressed with our teams and their resiliency. The fact that we have had this remarkable run of innovation and creativity of the past year is a testament to their work, undertaking during a really challenging time.

There’s enormous benefit to getting teams together in the office, but when the pandemic made business as usual impossible, we innovated and adapted …”

While I’m sure Apple, as a whole, has more respect for remote work going forward, I also know that when it comes to corporate culture, old habits are hard to break. I expect that once vaccines are distributed and things are safer, Apple is going to try and get most of its employees back on site.

My hope, however, would be that this experience causes some reconsideration on the historical position that Apple employees are all in Cupertino. If Apple is to continue with its historic run, they need to keep talent acquisition and retention a top priority. There are a lot of brilliant folks that could help Apple out that don’t wish to live near Cupertino, California. If Apple could become a bit more of a remote company, getting those folks on board would be a lot easier.