Apple delays employees’ return to office due to rise in COVID-19 cases

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Thousands of workers are pushing for a more flexible work-from-home policy

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, Apple has decided to delay its workers’ return to offices. 

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook told workers that they would have to go into the office at least three days a week starting in early September. Cook reiterated at the time that he believes face-to-face collaboration plays a crucial role in driving innovation and results. 

"For all that we've been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other," Cook said in a June memo. "Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate."

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Apple is pushing back its deadline for the resumption of in-person work “by at least a month to October at the earliest.” Employees will reportedly be given a month’s notice before they’ll be required to return to offices. 

Some employees pushing back 

Apple’s decision to have employees come back to offices has faced criticism. On an internal Slack channel, thousands of “remote work advocates” began circulating a petition asking for the company to adopt a more flexible work-from-home policy. 

"We continue to be concerned that this one-size-fits-all solution is causing many of our colleagues to question their future at Apple," employees said in a letter last month. "With COVID-19 numbers rising again around the world, vaccines proving less effective against the delta variant, and the long-term effects of infection not well understood, it is too early to force those with concerns to come back to the office."

In response, company executives underscored their belief that “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”

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