Apple shelves its plan to get workers back into the office

Apple has delayed its plan to bring employees back to the office three days a week.

According to Bloomberg, Apple executives told employees the plan, which was due to take effect on May 23, was on hold “for the time being” as Covid-19 cases spike again in the United States. No new date has been communicated.

The memo adds that masks are now mandatory in common areas of Apple offices in Silicon Valley. The company has also reintroduced a mask mandate at around 100 US stores, after dropping the requirement in March.

Office Restrictions

The policy had previously proven controversial with Apple employees, including forcing the company’s director of machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, to resign, directly citing work-from-home policies as the cause. Interestingly, Goodfellow is now said to have joined Alphabet’s DeepMind unit, which presumably has a more relaxed approach to returning to the office.

Employees had expressed concerns about the policies for some time – Goodfellow being the most obvious – citing concerns about commute time taking up work time.

Apple did not respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment.

A tricky problem

Apple is between a rock and a hard place with its policies, having been forced to work remotely by the pandemic. The company is renowned for its hands-on, especially its design teams, which is at odds with working from home.

On top of that, Apple has also spent billions building the iconic Apple Park campus, which looks like a massive spaceship, likely adding to executives’ desire to bring workers back into the building.

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Many workers have embraced hybrid working – taking advantage of the flexibility of working from home, especially those with children and pets.

Various surveys show that workers are not enjoying returning to the office and will look elsewhere for more remote working locations.

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