Should retailers reconsider bringing their HQ staff back to work?
Apple is pushing back the expected return timeline for its headquarters personnel from September to October in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases across most of the U.S.
The consumer technology giant has promised employees at its Cupertino, CA, headquarters that it will provide them with at least a month’s advance notice before they are asked to return to work on the company’s campus.
“As the situation continues to evolve, we’re committed to the same measured approach that we have taken all along,” said an email to Apple employees shared with The New York Times.
Apple has earned high marks from workers’ advocates and public health professionals for its decisions to close stores in the U.S. and elsewhere where COVID-19 has posed a safety risk to associates and customers. The company is taking the additional step of testing a “Retail Flex” work model that will allow associates to split their hours between working in stores on some weeks and handling online sales, customer service and tech support remotely on others.
The news on Apple’s current plan comes at a time when employers are determining how to organize their workforces as state and local health authorities have lifted many of the mask and social distancing measures that had been in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. Some companies have been insistent on workers returning to their offices while others have either chosen to go the hybrid route or, in some cases, allow employees to continue working remotely.
The recent rise of COVID-19 cases across most of the U.S. is being tied most directly to the spread of the Delta variant. Less than half of the nation’s population is currently vaccinated against the virus. Confirmed cases rose to more than 35,000 on Monday, a nearly 200 percent jump from two weeks before. Deaths, which lag positive tests, are up 44 percent over the same period. Eighty-three percent of all cases have been tied to the Delta variant.
- Apple Delays Office Return by At Least a Month as Covid Spikes – Bloomberg
- Apple delays its return to office as the Delta variant surges. – The New York Times
- Apple Delays Office Return as Covid-19 Delta Variant Spreads – The Wall Street Journal
- Can Apple and others make flex-work models work for store associates? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should employers reduce the number of workers in offices at this time and use hybrid or completely remote models to get work done? Do you think companies need to rethink how workers perform their jobs even after challenges created by the Delta variant are addressed?