Apple delays return to office plan, lets employees stay remote and requires masks in common areas

Apple is delaying progress on its hybrid return to work for office workers, says in a memo (previously reported by .) Bloomberg) that “we are extending the phasing-in period of the pilot and will remain in the office for two days a week for the time being.” For those in the current two-day-a-week pilot, Apple said that if they feel uncomfortable coming to the office, they will once again have the option to work remotely.

The company’s COVID-19 response team said the updates are based on monitoring local information such as positivity and hospitalizations, and also asked employees to return to wearing masks in common areas such as conference rooms, hallways and elevators. The Bloomberg The report added that on Tuesday, store employees in about 100 U.S. stores were told to wear masks again:

Based on current circumstances, we have two updates to share:

First, we temporarily ask team members to wear masks in common areas, meeting rooms, hallways and elevators, generally all areas outside of your personal workspace.

Secondly, we are extending the phasing-in period of the pilot and for the time being we will be staying in the office for two days a week. For those of you participating in the pilot, if you don’t feel comfortable coming to the office during this time, you have the option to work remotely. Discuss your plans with your manager.

These changes are for your location and we will make changes to other locations as needed. We will continue to monitor local data closely and make every effort to notify you of any changes at least two weeks in advance.

The letter did not immediately respond to requests from the Apple Together group that: wrote a letter to protest against the hybrid plan, but extra flexibility in returning to the office (however temporary) is in line with what they asked for. CEO Tim Cook originally announced the new hybrid model nearly a year ago, but repeated spikes in COVID-19 infections delayed its launch until earlier this year. Apple hasn’t specifically addressed the data and trends that drove this change, but the results seem alarming enough to stick with masking and added flexibility for now.