Apple CEO Tim Cook and the coming hybrid workplace

Apple CEO Tim Cook has added his voice to the chorus of business leaders who now expect the future workplace to be a hybrid environment in which remote and on-premises employees work together.

Welcome to office as a service

He’s right, of course. IDC predicts 60% of the U.S. workforce will be remote by 2024. According to Slack’s Future Forum, just 12% of knowledge workers want to return to the office, while 72% want a hybrid remote-office model in future.

Cook isn’t all in on remote working, however. Speaking to People magazine, Cook said that while he thinks Apple will become more accepting of remote work, he also believes getting people together in the physical sense is important, at least for some of the things his company does. (That includes, I assume, product development in secrecy.)

“My gut says that, for us, it’s still very important to physically be in touch with one another because collaboration isn’t always a planned activity,” said Cook.

Remote innovation takes time

This does reflect some of the experience I’ve been reading about as teams attempt to innovate together. To be successful, remote working takes a great deal of planning and – as Cook notes – it’s not always possible to plan the next great idea. Sometimes they emerge as people simply bounce smaller ideas together against the wall.

“Innovation isn’t always a planned activity,” he said. “It’s bumping into each other over the course of the day and advancing an idea that you just had. And you really need to be together to do that.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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