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Apple’s director of machine learning has quit over company’s return to office policy

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(Image credit: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

To return to the office or continue with work from home? That is the question that’s been on the mind of both employers and employees. The debate on whether working outside the office helps or harms productivity is taking an interesting turn with the pandemic still simmering in the background. 

Apple employee Ian Goodfellow just quit over Apple’s push to get people back to work, according to Verge reporter Zoë Schiffer (opens in new tab). Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning, reportedly told Apple that his employees would thrive with more flexibility. But the company has adopted a strict return-to-office policy since April 11 — employees must come in once a week. After May 23, they'll need to come into the office three times a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, according to a memo sent by Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

Apple has been more strict about its return-to-work policy than other tech firms, and Goodfellow was not the only employee to voice his concerns. There was a letter drafted by a group of Apple employees (opens in new tab) to the company executives pushing back on the lack of flexibility. 

Recent studies and surveys point to the fact that workers’ priorities and expectations have shifted. According to ADP Research Institute’s report People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View (opens in new tab),  a whopping 64% of the total global workforce have said they would rather quit if they were asked to come back to work full-time. 

Office occupancy in New York City is just 32.9% of pre-pandemic levels according to a study by Kastle (opens in new tab), and that  has left cubicles pretty empty. 

According to Ellen Langer, author and a professor of psychology at Harvard University, experiments have shown that people are more likely to be less creative in virtual meetings (opens in new tab) when compared to in-person. 

It seems like there’s no right answer to end this debate just yet. Will work from home continue or will return to office be the new norm? While we wait to discover the answer, expect more reports of departures like the one Apple just experienced.

Sanjana loves all things tech. From the latest phones, to quirky gadgets and the best deals, she's in sync with it all. Based in Atlanta, she is the news editor at Tom's Guide. Previously, she produced India's top technology show for NDTV and has been a tech news reporter on TV. Outside work, you can find her on a tennis court or sipping her favorite latte in instagrammable coffee shops in the city. Her work has appeared on NDTV Gadgets 360 and CNBC.