Apple pushes back return to offices with the rise in COVID-19 cases

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The US-based technology giant Apple is delaying its return to office deadline by at least a month to October at the earliest, because of the increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant across many countries, people familiar with the matter said.

The iPhone maker had laid out a roadmap for returning to its offices in early September, with employees expected to come in at least three days a week, but now that deadline has reportedly been extended “by at least a month to October at the earliest.”

With the new decision, Apple becomes one of the first US tech giants to delay plans for a return to normality as COVID-19 persists. According to the sources, the company will give its employees at least a month’s warning before mandating a return to offices.

In June, the chief executive of Apple, Mr. Tim Cook said that employees should begin returning to offices in early September for at least three days a week. In an internal memo, Mr. Cook cited the availability of vaccinations and declining infection rates. Some employees of the technology giant have worked from Apple offices on certain days throughout the pandemic.

Apple’s return to offices was controversial among some of its employees. A group of workers in an internal Slack channel for thousands of “remote work advocates” collaborated on a letter to Mr. Cook and the rest of Apple’s leadership, making the case that the company should embrace a more flexible work-from-home policy.

The iPhone maker was not a supporter of the concept of the remote working system in the pre-pandemic period, and while allowing employees to work from home two days a week is a big change for the company, several Silicon Valley companies have been bringing workers back to the office only slowly.

Facebook has said it will expand the number of employees who can work remotely even after the pandemic, although their salaries may be adjusted by considering their location. Alphabet’s Google also recently introduced a more permissive return-to-work policy that allows its staff to work from different locations or entirely from home.

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