Apple's Director of machine learning dislikes return-to-work policy so much that he quit

I am talking about my own experiences over several decades…

But what makes you think the other people saying that’s not always true aren’t?


I’ve made 6 hires since the pandemic started. 2 of those people have never seen the office and never will. The job could largely be done remotely when I posted it and the pandemic required me to think smart and make it 100%. I’m in the Chicago area and one of them is in Delaware and the other is in Kansas. I’ve seen their faces, but that’s about it. And they do great.

2 others were remote during the pandemic but I brought them back…then very quickly went to a 3/2 model which has gone well. I’m considering going to a 2/3 model just because they do remote work so very well and I feel it should be rewarded.

2 have to be on-site. It’s the nature of the job to physically touch stuff. I’ve tried hard to make the on-site experience as nice as it can be - both expanding physical space and having little parties and whatnot every few months and food. A lot of food. Morale is pretty good.

The sad part is I am far ahead of where my co-leaders are. They are demanding on-site and people hate it. And it’s not needed!


Can confirm, have five open positions right now I’m desperate to fill.


What some refer to with vomit-inducing phrases like “spontaneous collaboration” and “hallway conversations”, I call “unwelcome distractions that kill my flow and make my job harder”.

To put it another way:

Maybe? :person_shrugging: Does it really matter?

And for someone like me with ADD and OCD issues that often affect my ability to focus on meetings and conversations, having a written/recoded record of these kind of interactions is incredibly helpful as I can go back and reference them later.


They are generic, not specific. I have experience with both. You haven’t seen real-time team collaboration until you’ve at least witnessed a software development team working together online. It blows away in-person collaboration.

As for brainstorming sessions, my number one job in any in-person brainstorming session is to mediate it such that the most vocal/confident contributors don’t dominate the session, and to draw out the quieter contributors so that we gain the benefit of their expertise. If someone doesn’t do that, the effect is the same as if you only had the most confident 2-3 people just do the whole thing. At times I’ve basically had to tell confident but inexperienced people to STFU and let the PhDs talk for a minute before they Dunning-Krueger us to death.


And what does that have to do with work? I’m paid to work with colleagues; nobody said we had to be besties and I didn’t sign up for that. I have friends elsewhere.


Indeed. I like (most) of my coworkers and I’m sure many of them are quite lovely people, but I generally have little interest in socializing with any of them outside of work.

I’ve certainly made some really good friends through work, but that’s a very rare alignment of the stars.


Wait, you mean 4 developers sharing a screen, each with extra monitors on the side to view supporting information at the same time while they talk on a shared audio line works?

I thought we needed the 4 of them in a conference room, using a low resolution projector, perhaps with a tiny laptop each for supporting data.

Perhaps that’s to defined of a meeting, what we really needed was the random huddle in one of their offices/cubes/4 foot section of open office table space, where 3 of them look over the first person’s shoulder at the tiny text to far away to see, without any extra screens at all for extra help, at least the audio is crisp as they practically breath on each others necks.

Clearly, I’m missing something.

Change this to a hardware debugging problem where someone literally needs to put a test probe (or multiple) on a circuit board and read the results and the entire picture changes obviously. But, there’s a lot less of those people and they never went remote at all. I’m sure some of them post here, and some of them probably wish they had a full engineering lab at home.

PS: It’s still true that almost nobody can type correctly the first time while everyone watches. Doesn’t matter which scenario it is. :grinning:


I need to add a few more :heart: :heart: :heart:


I can’t really tell what you’re getting at. Do you think pheromones are the key?


It’s an immutable law of the universe.


That’s quite the assumption, there.


Quite a way of overlooking talent and potential productivity among different personality types too. A boss who thinks like that is wasting some of their um, human resources.


And wasting time and money in general. I’ll bet the pandemic exposed the lack of value a whole lot of middle managers and VPs actually added to their companies. Strip away the performative meetings, the team-building events, the make-work assignments, the guard labour surveillance, and the office politics and it turns out these well-paid people don’t actually do anything of substance.

The same goes for a lot of the commercial square footage companies that pay rent for or (e.g. in Apple’s case) put money into building. It turns out that a lot of it wasn’t necessary for anything but superficial shows and ego-boosting.

Beyond that, there’s the waste of employees’ time and energy and money that emerged from commuting and dress codes and inflexible break and working hours schedules. What do you know, none of it was as necessary to the operation of a company as certain types of managers insisted it was.

I’m glad employees have more choices that suit their work style, more alternatives to the broken old ways of corporate America*. While I understand that some work better in a corporate environment and that collaborative on-site work can be better for certain creative industries, anyone calling for an across-the-board return to the old one-size-fits-all on-site model is telling us something about their screwed-up priorities and their calcified assumptions.

[* we should always specify that we’re talking about corporate office settings in these kinds of discussions]


You’d lose that bet more often than you think, especially in organisations that recognise and reward truly good managers. Such managers do not start from the assumption that employees who: prefer to work from home; or who spend most of their time heads-down in do-not-disturb mode; or who draw a clear line between work time and everything else; or who are on the spectrum; or who are simply introverted and quiet are “scared of human interaction” (and on that topic, let’s be clear that social anxiety is not a character flaw).

Jettisoning that characterisation allows the manager to prime folks like that for success that may end up eclipsing that of their more outgoing and social co-workers, even in industry cultures that traditionally reward extroversion.

tl;dr: if two equally productive individuals in similar roles are experiencing substantially different levels of success within an enterprise, the problem is probably not with either of them but with their manager or the corporate culture.


I’ve always framed this in my mind as the world being composed of “doers and talkers”. There are people who talk for a living, and people who actually do things for a living. We all know which we need more of and which we need fewer of, I think. :wink:


People skills are important!


I’m saying that there are important aspects of human collaboration that are lost on zoom calls.

Video conferencing isn’t the only tool for remote collaboration. It’s often not even the best choice.