How Apple's Culture of Secrecy Poses Challenges for the New Work From Home Reality

Apple employees in Silicon Valley and other parts of the world have been working from home since early March, and a new report from The Information outlines how one of the most secretive companies conducts business when its workforce is telecommuting, based on interviews with a dozen current and former employees.

apple park drone june 2018 2
Apple normally requires all of its employees to work in-office and places a high value on in-person meetings and communications. While people are working from home, Apple encourages them to use Apple-designed tools like FaceTime and iCloud Drive for security purposes, but tools like Slack, WebEx, and Box are permitted as Apple employees have not found it easy to work with Apple's own apps due to their consumer rather than enterprise focus.

Working on hardware has proven difficult because it typically requires touching and viewing parts in person. Apple engineers often travel to China when gearing up to produce new devices to finalize component designs and other particulars, which hasn't been possible, leaving them to rely on grainy photographs to make hardware decisions, with Apple closely controlling who in the factory gets access to the cameras, which have no wireless functionality and sealed removable storage.

Given the time differences in China, it can take many hours of back and forth emailing for Apple's teams to receive the photos they need from the factories in China, which has led to some Bay Area employees working on a "night shift" so there's someone available to respond to suppliers in China during their workday.

Employees who rely on prototypes for their work have been unable to access Apple's secure labs, which has caused prototyping work to grind to a halt.

Employees can no longer use Apple's 3-D printers and milling machines, nor can they conduct stress and drop tests of their designs. One employee said prototyping in Cupertino had mostly stopped. At first, Apple didn't have a protocol in place for employees to bring components from future products home with them, but more recently it has established a process for doing so in some instances, two employees said.

Other employees have been able to replicate what they do at home, accessing confidential documents using corporate VPNs or accessing desktops remotely. Apple has reportedly sent regular updates advising employees on how best to work at home, and is allowing them to expense office supplies and bring items home from their workplaces. Apple has also attempted to maintain security protocols for work from home employees, such as making sure other people in the household can't see their screens.

Despite the difficulties Apple employees have to overcome to work remotely, one Apple supplier that The Information spoke to said that there are "no signs" of slowdown. Apple has continued to place a steady stream of orders for components, and has increased orders for iPhone 11 and 11 Pro orders.

The Information's full article has much more detail on how Apple employees are handling working at home and is well worth a read.

Top Rated Comments

IPPlanMan Avatar
51 months ago

While people are working from home, Apple encourages them to use Apple-designed tools like FaceTime and iCloud Drive for security purposes, but tools like Slack, WebEx, and Box are permitted as Apple employees have not found it easy to work with Apple's own apps due to their consumer rather than enterprise focus.
It's a shame that Apple has completely ceded the enterprise space to these other companies.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TTTedP Avatar
51 months ago

It's a shame that Apple has completely ceded the enterprise space to these other companies.
agreed. After years on Macs, two apps I still can't reliably replicate, MS Visio and Project. I've tried a couple of independents and they're fragmented at best. The Omni group stuff is just OK (but expensive) and workflow isn't quite the same - especially when collaborating with Windows users. Now our whole org has gone O365 and thus making working in an (well, mine) enterprise with a Mac even more PITA.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kemal Avatar
51 months ago
Love the grainy photos of hardware bit. Apple make their own material for the rumor sites.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dan110 Avatar
51 months ago
From the article, "...Apple employees have not found it easy to work with Apple's own apps due to their consumer rather than enterprise focus." Absolutely hilarious!

They're finally feeling what we've been saying for years.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
51 months ago

It's a shame that Apple has completely ceded the enterprise space to these other companies.
Its even worse that than. They have ceded to everthing but simple absent minded teenager fads.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
51 months ago

Love the grainy photos of hardware bit. Apple make their own material for the rumor sites.
I’m just imagining Apple engineers stuck at home, waiting for the next MR article to drop so they know what product they’ll be working on next.

Apple Testing AR/VR Headset With HTC Vive-Like Controller, Crosswalk Bowling Game, and More

"Oh, neat, I've been hoping to do some AR stuff!"
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project was canceled,...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...
applearcade

Game Developers Describe 'Smell of Death' Around Apple Arcade

Monday February 26, 2024 7:24 am PST by
Some game developers are dissatisfied with Apple Arcade amid concerns about the subscription service's future, a new report claims. Sources speaking to mobilegamer.biz described a "smell of death" around Apple's games subscription service and noted the difference between the company's investment in TV and music, and its interest in games. "At the very top of the company there needs to be a ...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPad Air 5

iPadOS 18 Rumored to Drop Support for These iPad Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:55 am PST by
iPadOS 18 will drop support for iPad models equipped with the A10X Fusion chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS and iPadOS updates. This means that iPadOS 18 would not be compatible with the first-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro or the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro models released in 2017. It...