Apple is reportedly delaying its plans to see staff returning to the office. After months of internal tensions, the Cupertino company has moved its targeted window from October until January as the earliest due to the rising surge of COVID-19 cases in the US.
According to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, Apple’s plans to have staff transition to a hybrid remote work model have once again been delayed. On Twitter, Gurman stated that the decision has been made official and an internal memo has been sent to employees.
Breaking: Apple delays office return until January at the earliest, from October, on surging Covid-19 cases and new variants. Retail stores/offices meanwhile are not closing. Vaccines again encouraged. Link to story: https://t.co/nwW98bGcxW https://t.co/yZ4Gd5MXJQ
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) August 20, 2021
Citing “surging Covid-19 cases and new variants,” Apple will be keeping a close watch on the situation. The company will confirm the return schedule a month before employees are to return. Given the continuous change in the landscape around the pandemic, the return to office plan could get pushed beyond January.
Gurman notes that the head of HR and retail Deirdre O’Brien sent the memo and indicated that the company may be upping its testing program to employees once staff begin returning to the office.
The memo to staff, sent by human resources and retail head Deirdre O’Brien, added that the company does not currently expect to shutter its offices or retail stores. But she strongly encouraged staff to get vaccinated. The company is yet to require vaccinations or testing, though it is upping its testing program to as many as three at-home coronavirus tests per week. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the memo.
Originally, Apple CEO Tim Cook and other leads of the company informed staff that a new hybrid remote work model would be implemented come September. Employees would then be expected to return to the office three days a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday) and work remotely on the remaining days of the week.
The staff took umbrage with this decision. Many felt as though this was a conflict in accessibility and counterintuitive to a strong work-life balance. Following a vocal uproar from staff, Apple delayed its plans of introducing the new model from September to October. While still headfast in its decision, the delay stemmed from rising COVID-19 cases in the US.
Apple employees will continue to operate remotely for the remainder of the year. Beyond that, it will be interesting to see how the landscape changes as new variants pose challenges for a return to work.