Apple engineers used remote control robots and iPads equipped with custom augmented reality software to guide technicians in overseas factories, due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Usually Apple engineers make frequent visits to places like China, where Apple carries out manufacturing. However, this year’s coronavirus lockdown has made this impossible — leading to Apple having to make some tech-savvy adjustments.
This part of Apple’s workflow was revealed by Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, during a virtual downhill meeting Thursday. Riccio also said that staff worked different hours to be able to better communicate with colleagues in China. China is 16 hours ahead of California, where Apple is based.
Apple employees will work from home until June 2021
During the meeting, CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple will probably continue working from home until June 2021. Cook suggested that the success Apple has enjoyed this year working remotely could increase flexible working in the future. Although he said it’s not a perfect substitute for true, in-person collaboration.
“There’s no replacement for face-to-face collaboration, but we have also learned a great deal about how we can get our work done outside of the office without sacrificing productivity or results,” Cook told employees, according to Bloomberg. “All of these learnings are important. When we’re on the other side of this pandemic, we will preserve everything that is great about Apple while incorporating the best of our transformations this year.”
Cook also noted that Apple is giving employees an extra paid day of holiday for January 4. Other companies such as Google have also done this recently.
Apple employees have largely been working from home since March. At that time, Cook told Apple employees to “please feel free to work remotely if your job allows” it. This followed recommendations from California health authorities to encourage telecommuting and reduce the number of people working in close proximity.