Apple’s phased return to offices has begun in some regions

13 May 2020364 Views

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While Facebook, Google and Twitter have extended their remote working policies, Apple is reportedly bringing staff back to offices in a phased return plan.

As other major tech companies announce extensions to their remote working policies, Apple is planning to bring employees back to its offices in the near future, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, both Facebook and Google said that the majority of their workers are expected to work remotely until the end of the year, with only “critical” workers, such as hardware engineers and content moderators, returning to offices in the coming weeks and months.

However, sources told Bloomberg that Apple plans to bring its employees back to offices, including the main Apple Park campus in Silicon Valley, in a series of phases in the next few months.

It reported that the first phase, which includes employees who can’t work remotely or are facing challenges working from home, has already begun in some regions.

Reopening Apple offices

Since restrictions were put in place early on in the crisis, Apple has kept a select group of employees working on site to keep operations running. In April, Tim Cook told the rest of the company’s employees in a virtual town hall event that their return to work would be staggered.

“We don’t envision, at least today, everyone going back at the same time,” he said. “It may be different teams go back at a different time, it may be people within a team go back at different times.”

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The first group of employees expected to return to the offices will likely be those focusing on hardware development, according to Bloomberg. Staff who work in other roles such as managing data centres, deploying software and putting up new products for sale may follow.

The company will ask employees to work from the office regularly or only for certain periods, depending on their roles. By early June, Apple intends to expand this plan to all of its major offices.

Phase two will reportedly begin in July and will see more employees return to Apple offices around the world. However, sources told Bloomberg that this timeline is “fluid and may change” as local and state stay-at-home orders change.

How other companies are approaching the matter

Bloomberg said that the company’s approach, which is in stark contrast to many other tech companies, “underscores Apple’s long-time focus on in-person meetings and hands-on product development”.

While Google and Facebook don’t expect to bring all of their employees back on site until at least 2021, Amazon has told its corporate employees that they can work from home until October, as long as they have a role that can “effectively be done from home”.

Amazon said: “We are working hard and investing significant funds to keep those who choose to come to the office safe through physical distancing, deep cleaning, temperature checks, and the availability of face coverings and hand sanitiser.”

Yesterday (12 May), Twitter announced that it is offering employees the option to work from home “forever” if they are in a role and situation that is suited to remote working. It said that, with very few exceptions, Twitter offices won’t open before September, and employees can decide “when and if” they want to return.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com