Apple delays return to offices indefinitely, gives all employees $1,000

Apple delays return to offices indefinitely, gives all employees $1,000

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Apple Park Close up
Apple's headquarters will remain empty for the foreseeable future.
Photo: Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook emailed corporate employees on Wednesday to confirm the company is yet again delaying its return to offices. He also said Apple will give all employees $1,000 to spend on home office equipment.

Apple told employees in November that they were expected to return to their workstations on February 1. But with Covid-19 cases again on the rise around the world, that date is now “yet to be determined.”

Apple tells employees to stay at home

Like a lot of companies in the United States, Apple sent its office employees home last March — and told them to stay there — as the pandemic raged. It has since set multiple return to work dates, only to scrap them again later.

Apple originally planned to bring some staff back last May, but when that couldn’t happen, it set dates in September and then October of this year. They were then pushed back to January, then February of 2022.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise again, it looks like that’s not going to happen. Cook told office staff in the United States on Wednesday that their return to work date is now “yet to be determined” and they must stay at home.

“He also said the company is giving every corporate employee $1,000 to spend on home office equipment,” tweeted NBC News reporter Zoë Schiffer, who later clarified that the payout will go to all employees.

This includes retail workers — even those who are able to go to work — but not third-party vendors and contractors.

Apple wants staff to come back

Unlike other tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, which have told employees that they can continue working from home for good, Apple has been adamant about getting its employees back to offices at some point.

Cook has agreed to compromise with office workers on a more “hybrid environment.” But, despite calls for more flexible working arrangements, he feels a return to more traditional office working is necessary for Apple.

“There has been something essential missing from this past year: each other,” Cook said in an internal memo in June. “Video conference calling has narrowed the distance between us, to be sure, but there are things it simply cannot replicate.”

“I know I’m not alone in missing the hum of activity, the energy, creativity and collaboration of our in-person meetings and the sense of community we’ve all built.”

To be fair to Cook, Apple did spend $5 billion building its Apple Park headquarters, which only opened its doors a few years ago. It’s understandable that the company wants to use it.