The Pernicious Persistence of Bullshit Once It’s Been Reported by a Major, Ostensibly Trustworthy Outlet

From a piece today at The Washington Post by Rachel Lerman and Jay Greene, on “tech giants” being in no rush to return employees to office work:

Even the big five tech firms haven’t been able to keep all their workers at home. Amazon has continued to require warehouse staff during the pandemic, and faced backlash over accusations of dangerous working conditions. Facebook is offering financial incentives to lure content moderators back to the office, because many of the jobs can’t be done remotely.

One big exception to the extended work-from-home timeline among tech giants appears to be Apple, a company that has already been hard hit by the pandemic and was forced to temporarily slow manufacturing in China and shutter its retail stores in the U.S. — though both are reopening now. Apple declined to comment on its plans to bring workers back to the office. Bloomberg News reported that the company plans to start bringing workers back in phases starting this month.

That’s the entirety of this Post story’s reporting on Apple. Apple “appears” to be a “big exception to the extended work-from-home timeline” because of Mark Gurman’s report at Bloomberg last week, which I called bullshit on.

And they put this “exception” right after a paragraph about employees at other companies who can’t work remotely. There’s nothing exceptional about Apple’s stance on employees returning to campus. No one at Apple is returning to the office except for tasks that can only be done at the office. Even for those employees, they’re not being forced to do so — only those employees who are comfortable doing so are returning to the workplace in any capacity. Many (most?) of the employees in Apple’s “phase one” haven’t been back to the office once yet, and don’t know when they will be. Being in the first phase simply means their key cards grant them access if they need it.

If anything, it sounds like Amazon (with warehouses) and Facebook (with moderators) are the exceptions, pushing employees back to workplaces. But the Post flags Apple, because of Bloomberg.

Again, a careful reading of Bloomberg’s report does not claim anything to contradict the fact that all Apple employees who can work from home will remain at home until further notice, and those who must go to the office are doing so as little as possible, and are coordinating with their teammates to remain isolated. But it’s all painted with the slant that some Apple employees who could entirely work from home are being pushed back to work. They are not. That is not happening.

You may have noted that as juicy as the Bloomberg slant on this story is, there has yet to be a single corroborating report, let alone one with quotes from anyone at Apple who objects to how Apple is dealing with this. But now that Bloomberg has reported it, outlets like the Washington Post accept the slant at face value.

Monday, 18 May 2020