Apple loses director of machine learning over return to in-person work policy
Ian Goodfellow says he would have liked more flexibility for his teamBy Humza Aamir 18 comments
Bottom line: There have been several reports of Apple employees criticizing the company's return to in-person work policy, with some even resigning for a workplace that offers more flexibility or allows them to go remote full-time. The policy is now also affecting top-level Apple executives, with Ian Goodfellow being the latest high-profile departure. Ian (pictured above) had been at the helm of Apple's machine learning efforts for three years and recently announced his departure because of Apple's in-person work policy.
Workplace culture has evolved significantly across many organizations in the post-pandemic era, especially tech companies. Some prominent names like Meta/Facebook, Slack, Twitter, and more recently, Airbnb, have fully embraced remote work. Meanwhile, tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple have opted for a hybrid approach, requiring employees to work in the office for a certain number of days per week.
A return to traditional office life is still increasingly questioned by employees as some companies have adopted policies to gradually phase out full-time remote work in favor of in-person attendance. Apple's hybrid work plan, which went into effect last month, is similar in nature, as it required employees to come to the office at least once a week in April and twice a week from May 4 onwards.
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Later this month, Apple employees will need to work in-person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Unsurprisingly, some staff have been unhappy with this development, and it looks like the policy has now also caused frustration for top-level executives, leading to the the departure of Ian Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning.
Known as the father of an AI approach called generative adversarial networks (GANs), Goodfellow was poached by Apple from Google in March 2019 to join Cupertino's Special Projects Group. While breaking the news of his departure in an internal email, Goodfellow said he strongly believed that more flexibility would have been the best policy for his team.