Apple to delay return to office as Covid-19 variants spread

Facebook is expanding the number of employees who can work remotely and Google is allowing staff to work from different locations or entirely from home

People walk past an Apple retail store in New York City. The tech company is delaying the return of staff to the office as Covid-19 variants spread across the world. AFP
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Apple is pushing back its return to office deadline by at least a month to October at the earliest, responding to a resurgence of Covid variants across many countries, people familiar with the matter said.

The iPhone maker becomes one of the first US tech giants to delay plans for a return to normality as Covid persists and cases involving a highly transmissible variant increase. Apple will give its employees at least a month’s warning before mandating a return to offices, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing internal policy.

In June, chief executive Tim Cook said that employees should begin returning to offices in early September for at least three days a week. In an internal memo, Mr Cook cited the availability of vaccinations and declining infection rates. Some employees of the Cupertino, California-based technology giant have worked from Apple offices on certain days throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet even with half the US vaccinated, Covid-19 continues to kill people faster than guns, car crashes and influenza combined, according to a Bloomberg review of mortality data.

After 10 weeks of global declines in Covid deaths, the highly transmissible Delta variant is driving a new uptick. In the US, health officials have given a warning that a similar reversal may be under way. Daily cases have doubled from a low point last month, and admissions to hospitals are rising again.

In the tech industry, many workers have come to view remote work as a coveted perk. Several Silicon Valley companies have been bringing workers back to the office only slowly.

Facebook has said it will drastically expand the number of employees who can work remotely even after the pandemic — although their salaries may be adjusted w on their location. And Alphabet’s Google recently introduced a more permissive return-to-work policy that allows for staff to work from different locations or entirely from home.

Updated: July 20, 2021, 4:47 AM