As Apple has grown into one of the most successful and profitable companies on the planet, one of the main issues it’s struggled with has been employee retention. In a tech culture where engineers are almost primed to work on crazy new products and next-gen technologies, longstanding incumbents like Apple, despite its track record of innovation, are sometimes at a disadvantage.
Compounding matters is that living in Cupertino, where Apple is based, isn’t necessarily that appealing for young engineers in their early to mid 20s. Looking to address that particular issue, Reuters is reporting that Apple is planning to open a “chic” new office building in a popular part of San Francisco, an area that has almost become synonymous with forward-thinking startups.
While currently under construction, Apple’s renovations to its new 76,000 square foot space may be done as soon as this summer.
Apple’s decision to plant a flag in San Francisco, 46 traffic-choked miles north of its headquarters, comes years after similar moves from rival tech firms such as Google and LinkedIn and marks a turning point in Apple’s willingness to accommodate workers, according to recruiters and former employees.
The move is one sign of the intensifying war for tech talent – and of the overwhelming preference of younger tech workers to live and work in the city, with its vibrant nightlife and public transportation. The two floors Apple has leased in a building mostly occupied by CBS Interactive offer abundant open space and exposed ceilings, the preferred tech aesthetic.
While Apple does provide employees who live in San Francisco free chartered bus rides to and from Cupertino, not everyone is keen on having to commute to work an hour to an hour and a half each way every day. That being the case, Apple opening up a San Francisco office is something of an acknowledgement from Apple that not everyone is willing to compromise their quality of life just so that they can help “change the world.” Indeed, while Silicon Valley firms are notorious for providing free perks to employees, Apple’s perks are relatively modest. As Tim Cook himself has explained, the main allure to working at Apple doesn’t boil down to something like free lunch (which Apple doesn’t provide), but rather the opportunity to work on something great and to do your “life’s best work.”
Apple’s new San Francisco office will reportedly be large enough to accommodate 500 employees. That’s not bad, but it’s still a drop in the bucket relative to Apple’s entire workforce which is about 25,000 employees strong in and around Cupertino.