Imagine you are working at Apple. It’s April 2022. You’re told by higher-ups to get back to the office — by which I mean you’ve read a Slack message on your laptop. You go about your work day, angry that your bosses don’t seem to understand that you can do this job remotely.
Then someone sends you a YouTube link to a a nine-minute telecommuting ad telling the story of a group of people who left their company after being forced back into the office. The ad is from Apple, which is currently telling you to get back to the office. You hit your desk so hard that your screensaver deactivates.
It’s strange that the companies that have made so much money from remote work seem to be the most allergic to its possibilities. Google, which literally lets you run a company in a browser, forcing workers back into offices three days a week.
Meta, Apple and Google are industry leaders, but they are taking their industry backwards – back to the office where people will do the same things they did at home.
Meta, who lost billions trying to make us live in the computer, did also drove people back to the office. Having read nearly every telecommuting article published over the course of a year for my research, I have yet to find a single compelling argument for why employees should return to the office.
“Personal cooperation” and “intuition” are terms that make sense if you live in Narnia and believe in magical beings. In reality, the office environment resembles our remote lives, only with more annoying meetings and the ability to smell our colleagues’ lunch choices.
The tech industry pretends to be disruptive, but it follows a path forged by older companies like Goldman Sachs. How come Apple and Google, the companies that effectively gave us the ability to work remotely at scale, sound like they’re reading from a common New York Times anti-remote publication?