Apple CEO opts for employees to work from home; calls COVID-19 ‘challenging’

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Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park
Apple Park is likely to be a ghost town this week.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

CEO Tim Cook told Apple employees at company headquarters and other locations around the world to “please feel free to work remotely if your job allows” this week.

This guidance came in response to the COVID-19 disease that’s spreading across the United States.

“This is a challenging moment,” Cook said to employees in a memo. His message was leaked to Bloomberg, but a company spokesperson confirmed the details.

An Apple employee, who asked not to be identified, told Cult of Mac the memo was sent to employees Saturday.

As of today, COVID-19 has sickened more than 108,000 people and killed 3,782. At least 21 have died from the effects of the novel coronavirus in the United States.

Avoiding COVID-19 not only in Cupertino

Cook’s suggestion that employees work from home the week of March 9 through March 13 doesn’t just apply at the company’s headquarters. He told workers in “areas with the greatest density of infections” they needn’t come into the office during that period. That covers Washington state as well as several countries in Europe and Asia.

Apple’s head used the memo to talk about “new efforts to maximize interpersonal space and continuing enhanced deep cleanings.” The company will work to reduce crowding at its retail stores, including at the Genius Bar and during “Today at Apple” classes. Apple already canceled these classes across Italy and in some stores located in Seattle and San Francisco.

Not surprisingly, Cook also urged employees to not come to work if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

These moves follow recommendations from California health authorities to encourage telecommuting and to reduce the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another.

The full text of Cook’s memo to Apple employees was leaked by Jon Prosser on Twitter.