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Apple postpones return to work plan until at least October

Apple has postponed plans to bring employees back to the office, according to a report on Monday, with the company now expected to hold off on in-person work until at least October due to a COVID-19 surge.

Apple previously scheduled a shift toward normal corporate operations in September as California and other regions seemed capable of better handling the pandemic. A recent uptick in delta variant cases in and around Cupertino, as well as around the world, has given the tech giant pause, according to Bloomberg.

Citing people familiar with the company's plans, the report claims Apple has delayed its plans by at least a month. The iPhone maker will inform employees at least a month before in-office work is mandated.

According to The Mercury News, Cupertino in Santa Clara, where Apple Park is located, is in a Tier 2 zone, where daily new cases hover between 6 to 9.9 per 100,000 residents. Bordering Alameda county is a Tier 1 equivalent with more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, the report said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook in June informed staff that the company would embrace a hybrid work schedule in September. Employees will be expected to return to the office for at least three days a week and, with a few exceptions, can remote in from home twice a week. Employees can also elect to work from home for up to two weeks a year, pending approval from management.

Days after Cook announced the change internally, participants of a remote work advocacy Slack channel penned a letter asking Apple for more flexibility. Remote work comes with a number of benefits, the workers claim, including greater diversity and inclusion in retention and hiring, tearing down previously existing communication barriers, better work life balance, better integration of existing remote / location-flexible workers, and reduced spread of pathogens.

Last week, a handful of workers threatened to quit should the return to work policy be implemented. A second letter was sent to executives on Monday.

Apple's corporate philosophy holds employee commingling as a vital ingredient to innovation. Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was such a proponent that he helped design Apple Park's main building — effectively a large ring — to facilitate serendipitous encounters.

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