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Apple Continuing to Work on New Products as Workforce Adjusts to Telecommuting

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Working from home is the new reality for the majority of Apple’s employees, including those working on confidential new hardware and/or software. But despite that, Apple still has a goal of launching several new products in 2020.

That’s based on a report from Bloomberg today, which details how Apple’s transition to a majority of its engineers working from home has not derailed the company’s plans to launch new products this year, even as it continues to focus on confidentiality between telecommuting employees.

Currently, Apple is at work on “new versions of the HomePod speaker, Apple TV set-top box, MacBook Pro, budget iPads, Apple Watch and iMac for as early as later this year,” according to the report. And the company is said to be on track for the usual fall launch of its next iPhones. These are crucial days if all of those things are going to hit their release targets.

“Apple has struck the balance between recognizing that much of the world runs on their products and that they need to keep them functioning and advancing, and they are balancing that with employee safety,” said Gene Munster, a longtime Apple analyst and co-founder of Loup Ventures. “They are reminding us with these small products they’ve recently announced that they’re going to keep working.”

The main focus of the report is Apple’s new remote work culture. For instance, Apple employees are using not only Apple’s services for communication, but also things like Slack:

Meetings have continued by phone and video conferencing. Apple requires employees to communicate via its own FaceTime service, Slack Technologies Inc.’s app and Cisco Systems Inc.’s Jabber or WebEx in order to maintain secrecy. For file sharing, Apple limits working to its suite of productivity apps, Salesforce.com Inc.’s Quip and Box.

Apple has also been allowing select employees to take home early versions of future devices since March, a practice which is normally not allowed, and there is heavy oversight:

Taking home a future product requires the green light from the vice president of an employee’s organization. That list of staff with future devices at their homes also is sometimes reviewed by Apple’s senior vice presidents, the management team run by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.

Apple has offered an employee stipend to cover home office costs as the quarantine stretches on, according to Bloomberg’s report, and has started up a contest that has employees showcasing their workspaces.

“Whether you’re working at home or at the office, it’s always critical to keep confidential work confidential. While working remotely, use the same care and always securely store confidential items and documents when not in use,” the company said in a notice to staff.

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