Apple's Ive Rumor Proves Telework Not for Everyone

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Six Tips on Introducing a Telework Program

Important tips to ensure your telecommuting program is a success.

Have you heard or read the latest Apple rumor? Jonathan Ive, the man responsible for the iconic designs of the iPhone, iPad and other Apple products, is reportedly considering leaving the company because he wants to spend more time in his native UK, an idea not popular with Apple's board members. As with all Apple rumors, it's creating quite a buzz in the blogosphere.


More than anything, I think this proves how much some folks enjoy Apple rumors. As this item on core77 points out, the rumor is based solely on a story in the UK's Sunday Times with a "gossipy tabloid tone" and "vaguely-worded allegations that Ive is 'set to' do this and 'about to' do that." One of the article's primary sources is an unidentified "friend of the family."


But putting credibility aside (a painful statement for this journalist of 20-plus years), I think this story (true or not) reinforces an important point about telecommuting: It's just not for everyone.


As I've written before, I've been a regular teleworker for more than a decade. While my experience with telework has been overwhelmingly positive, I'm not sure it would have been if certain elements hadn't been in place. My work is largely self-directed. I attend few meetings. My employers and coworkers have been largely supportive. I've got a pretty good work ethic.


If we take a huge leap and assume the Ive rumor is true, he's facing two pretty significant obstacles to telework.


First, his bosses don't want him to do it. I can't imagine a telecommuting arrangement working without the approval of upper-level management. Second, I assume Ive's work involves lots of meetings and collaboration with members of Apple's design team. I don't care how much teleconferencing technology has improved, sometimes it just can't substitute for face-to-face interaction.


I included a list of good guidelines for effective telecommuting in a post I wrote in June, based on my own experiences, and those of folks I've interviewed about telecommuting and a post from Tell-a-Worker.com. Though telecommuting arrangements will differ based on the needs of both an employer and employee and the employee's job role, I think this list is a great starting point for telework discussions.


Among the recommendations:

  • Folks who want to telework should exhibit above-average productivity at the office and be able to maintain or increase productivity while working remotely.
  • Teleworkers should make regular office visits to attend meetings, make progress reports and attend to business not easily addressed off-site. Teleworkers should also be willing to come in when needed, for training or to work on special projects.
  • It should be easy for coworkers to communicate with teleworkers.
  • Teleworkers should have all the technical gear necessary to do their jobs.
  • Employers should have formal telework policies.
  • A test with a clear start and end date is a great way to help determine if a telework arrangement will work.