Apple may be rethinking the role of its ‘geniuses’ in stores
Apple has pumped the brakes on hiring new associates to work its Genius bars in some stores leading to speculation that the tech giant may be rethinking how it deploys workers in its locations.
Bloomberg was the first to report that Apple has chosen not to fill open Genius positions in some stores. It has also not moved ahead with verbal job offers made to some individuals slated to work at the company’s stores. The news service reports that Apple has not put a widespread hiring freeze in place or laid off geniuses.
Apple’s reality along with many other retailers is that in-store shopping patterns have changed since the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The company is assessing staffing levels and the functions that workers perform. Some stores in recent years have eliminated the use of Genius Bars and opted to put more associates on the floor to help customers.
The company has tested a flexwork model where store staff are able to work remotely some weeks and on-premises on others. Associates working at home handle online sales, customer service and tech support.
Apple yesterday launched its online Self Service Repair Store. The site gives customers access to repair manuals and genuine parts and tools for its iPhone 12, 13 and third–generation SE models.
The tech giant has made a concerted effort in recent years to diversify its service network using third-party providers. Apple said it has nearly doubled the number of independent repair providers for its products giving consumers nearby access across most of the U.S. Eighty percent of Apple customers, according to the company, are within a 20-minute drive to an authorized service provider.
Apple’s continuing review of its staffing needs comes at a time when unionizing activity is on the rise.
The company has hired the same law firm, Littler Mendelson, representing Starbucks in its fight to keep baristas organizing its coffee shops, reports The Verge.
Workers at an Apple store in Atlanta last week became the first to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. Over 70 percent of the roughly 100 workers at the Apple in Cumberland Mall signed authorization cards in support of joining the Communications Workers of America. It is the same union that represents workers at AT&T Mobility and Verizon, according to The New York Times.
- Apple Slows Hiring of Genius Employees at Some Retail Stores – Bloomberg
- Apple Store workers in Atlanta are the first to formally seek a union. – The New York Times
- Apple hires anti-union lawyers in escalating union fight – The Verge
- Apple’s Self Service Repair now available – Apple
- Can Apple and others make flex-work models work for store associates? – RetailWire
- Will new retail associate roles drive Apple’s sales even higher? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see a need for Apple to rethink how it deploys associates in stores and remotely based on changes in shopping behavior accelerated during the pandemic? Do Genius Bars and the people who staff them still have a positive role to play?