Apple Delays Staff Return To Offices Indefinitely

Amid rapid spread of Covid-19 Omicron variant, Apple has delayed the return of its corporate staff to the office indefinitely

Apple has reportedly given up trying to repeatedly set a target date for its staff to return to working in offices and campuses.

Apple, like other technology giants, has repeatedly had to push back the return to office date as the Coronavirus pandemic stubbornly continues to impact countries and global populations.

In August Apple had pushed back the date for staff to return to corporate offices and campuses, until January 2022.

Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino

Office return delay

Then in November Apple once again pushed back the return to office date for its staff to 1 February 2022, amid ongoing infections.

From that date Apple staff were asked to come in to the office, one to two days a week for the first month, and then in March Apple would implement its hybrid work plan, in which the majority of workers would be asked to come in Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

But now Bloomberg has reported that Apple has scrapped that February return date altogether, and has not bothered to set a new return date, opting instead for a “yet to be determined” date.

And Apple is also following what Google did last year for its staff, and will give all of its corporate and retail employees $1,000 to buy equipment for their home offices.

The development was shared with Apple employees in an email from CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook at WWDC 2020. Image credit: Apple
Apple chief executive Tim Cook at WWDC 2020. Image credit: Apple

Apple then confirmed details of the email to CNN Business.

This move by Apple, which was notorious for discouraging home working pre-pandemic, comes after a rise in Covid-19 infections around the world, triggered by the much more infectious Omicron variant.

Earlier this week, Apple reinstated a mask mandate at all of its US stores and is reportedly also closing three stores in Miami, Annapolis and Ottawa (Canada) because of a surge in cases there.

All the employees at the three stores will be tested before the stores are reopened, the company said.

Vaccine mandates

Tech companies are also starting to get increasingly tough on the rules surrounding vaccine mandates.

In July this year, Google (and Facebook/Meta) became the first two tech giants to require their staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, when they return to offices or campuses.

This prompted pushback from a small section of Google staff, after 600 staff last month signed a manifesto opposing firm’s widened Covid-19 vaccine mandate on workforce.

But now staff at Google who refuse to be vaccinated have been told they will first lose their salary, and eventually they will be fired.

Vaccine mandates has been adopted by other tech firms, and it comes after the Biden administration ordered American companies with 100 or more staff to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by 18 January.

That said, a federal court issued a stay on the order in early November, putting a halt to the administration’s efforts.

Apple in October stopped short of issuing a blanket Coronavirus vaccine mandate, but it is making life very difficult for staff refusing to the get the jab.

From 1 November, corporate workers at Apple who are unvaccinated were required to get tested for Covid-19 every time they come into the office for work.

Meanwhile unvaccinated retail staff will be tested twice a week, and any staff member who opts not to disclose their vaccine status will be subjected to Covid-19 testing whenever they enter the office.