Apple delays return to office amid COVID variant surge: report

Apple is pushing back its deadline for employees to return to their offices until at least October as coronavirus variants drive cases up around the world, according to a report.

The tech giant had originally told most employees they would be required to return to the office three days per week starting in September — but pushed back that deadline this week, adding that workers would get at least one month’s notice before they would be required to return, Bloomberg reported.

The move comes as new coronavirus cases have doubled in the US over just 10 days despite widespread availability of vaccines. Los Angeles county restored its indoor mask mandate this week — even for vaccinated people — and some New York City politicians want the city to do the same.

The surge complicates the plans of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has stressed in-person collaboration as essential to Apple’s creative process.

In a memo that CEO Tim Cook sent to employees in June, he reportedly pointed to high vaccination rates and declining infection rates as evidence that Apple employees could return to work.

An aerial view of the new Apple headquarters
Some Apple employees have balked at the idea of ever returning to the office, saying they shouldn’t have to choose between working and spending more time with their families.
Getty Images

Yet some Apple employees have pushed back against the idea of returning to the office — ever.

In response to Cook’s June memo — which would require employees to work in-person on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays — a group of highly-paid Apple employees circulated a letter slamming the policy.

“Without the inclusivity that flexibility brings, many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple,” the workers said.

Other tech companies including Twitter and Facebook have said many employees are welcome to work remotely forever — although Facebook plans to slash pay for employees who leave Silicon Valley for cheaper areas.

Interior view of Apple's "spaceship" campus.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has stressed that in-person collaboration is essential to Apple’s creative processes.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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