Apple employees expected back in the office in September

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Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park
The Apple Park company HQ will soon be buzzing with activity again.,
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

Apple employees are expected to return to the office this autumn. A memo sent to employees says they should plan to be on the office three days a week, if not more. That includes the company headquarters.

The change comes as COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S. have fallen dramatically in recent weeks.

CEO Tim Cook sent the memo to Apple employees on Wednesday telling them they are expected back in the office in September. And they need to be there Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to Bloomberg“We are setting consistent days in the office to help us optimize our time for in-person collaboration,” said Cook.

Three days a week is the minimal amount. Some employees will be expected in the office more.

FaceTime can’t really substitute for face time

Cook wants employees to have time together. “For all that we’ve been able to achieve while many of us have been separated, the truth is that there has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” the CEO wrote in the memo. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

In-person interaction brings its own benefits. “Things like creativity and serendipity — for these things you depend on people running into each other over the course of a day,” Cook’s memo says. “We have designed our entire office such that there are common areas where people congregate. You can’t schedule those things.”

Pandemic winding down in U.S.

The Apple CEO says the company is taking this step because COVID-19 vaccinations are working. The rate of new infections has dropped steadily for weeks. And vaccines are widely available.

This is a dramatic difference from spring 2020. Back then, the Apple Park company headquarters in Cupertino was essentially shut down. But some employees began returning in May 2020. And now the days when almost any employee could work from home full time are coming to a close.