Report: Apple Delays Return to Office

Posted on July 20, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple with 21 Comments

With its employees in open revolt about Apple requiring them to return to the office, Apple has delayed the milestone by one month. But not because of the complaints.

Instead, the reason is the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the United States and elsewhere thanks to the unvaccinated. That’s according to a report in Bloomberg, which notes that Apple has tentatively delayed its forced return to the office by one month, to October.

Additionally, Apple told employees that it would give them at least one month’s notice before forcing them to return to the office.

In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees that he expected them to return to the office for at least three days each week starting in September after a year and a half of pandemic-forced remote work. This has proven unpopular with many employees, who have been unusually vocal about their dissent, but Mr. Cook argues that Apple’s product development requires in-person meetings and gatherings to be successful.

As for the lingering pandemic, Bloomberg notes that while the United States is mostly acting as if it’s over, COVID-19 still kills Americans faster than guns, car crashes, and influenza combined. And while we did experience a 10-week decline in cases, with new variants hitting the vaccine-hesitant, cases are once again on the rise.

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Report: Apple Delays Return to Office”

  1. Avatar

    Greg Green

    Ha! I though this was about MS Office.

  2. Avatar

    thewarragulman

    "but Mr. Cook argues that Apple’s product development requires in-person meetings and gatherings to be successful"


    I don't believe this for a second. During the pandemic Apple has released macOS Big Sur, iOS 14 & the iPad, Apple Watch & Apple TV counterparts, as well as the beta versions of macOS Monterey & iOS 15 (and counterparts), and several Apple Silicon Macs, all of which have been super successful products.


    Clearly in-person meetings and people working from the office aren't required for Apple to create successful products as this past year has seen some of the best hardware and software they've made to date, so I really don't see a reason why employees should be forced to return to the office. Working from home isn't for everyone, in my job working in the ICT Service Desk for a healthcare company, I don't like the times I've had to do it, but there's lots who actually prefer it so they should be given the option to work remotely if it's preferred.

    • Avatar

      toukale

      All those products you listed were not develop during the pandemic year, if you know anything about products development. Products development takes 1-3 years, sometimes more, which means those products were basically almost done by the time the pandemic started.


      I see it this way some jobs can be done remotely but most jobs can't. We also need to take into account companies culture, from the few things I've read, Apple's corporate culture have always been a little different from the rest of its peers. I don't know enough about Apple's culture to have an informed opinion either way. What I do know is this, if you don't like what any company is asking of you, then leave, you can't expect companies to change their DNA to accommodate a few disgruntle workers.

      • Avatar

        spullum

        Companies aren’t people and don’t have DNA. The culture (and collection of best practices or “DNA”) existing in a company is created and maintained by the people themselves. Apple workers are not refusing to work. They are asking for flexibility since the world has changed and is still very dangerous (or at least unstable), particularly for parents and those taking care of others. Apple will lose good talent to a variety of companies who are more flexible. This might be OK with their leadership, and they can make that decision, but it seems shortsighted.


        This might be a great way for Microsoft and others to hire talent though. There’s really no reason why folks in technology can’t use technology to work effectively. Determine who needs to be in the machine/CPU shop, stagger their schedules, and let the coders, designers, writers, etc. stay safe.



  3. Avatar

    codymesh

    Everyone should fight for more flexible work arrangements.

  4. Avatar

    simont

    5 Billion dollars was spent on a new office building that few people want to go work in at present. Ouch.

  5. Avatar

    mattbg

    Really tired of typing anything about COVID-19 at this point, but if a resurgence is of concern, it's odd to defer to a month (October) when many people are expecting a resurgence to be in full swing given that the vaccine stunts spread and mitigates impact but does not seem to stop spread of the virus altogether.


    Assuming risks to the vaccinated are low, at some point, someone will need the courage to define what a tolerable level of COVID-19 in society is, and let everyone get on with things. It doesn't look like it's going away unless it goes away by itself by gradually weakening. But, it's also fair to say that we don't know how far we can let cases rip in a majority-vaccinated population without harming the healthy vaccinated.


    The UK seems to be testing that idea, given their full reopening yesterday in the face of rising case counts (but much lower counts of hospitalizations and deaths vs pre-vaccine times). It will be interesting to watch.


    Not sure we will have a big picture until we've been through an entire cycle of seasons with a majority-vaccinated population. The impact subsided in many countries last summer even without a vaccine.

    • Avatar

      cnc123

      Assuming risks to the vaccinated are low, at some point, someone will need the courage to define what a tolerable level of COVID-19 in society is, and let everyone get on with things.


      I think we're far past that point in the US. California opened up with essentially no restrictions over a month ago. The problem here is the kids under 12 can't be vaccinated, and before anyone says it, the numbers I've seen say kids under 4 have somewhere between a 1 in 25 and 1 and 50 chance of landing in the hospital if they contract COVID-19, with relatively worse numbers for newborns. Yeah, they're probably not going to die, but as a parent, not dying isn't a real high bar. Needless to say, I'm not a real big fan of those numbers.


      This is a roundabout way of saying that I imagine part of the concern from Apple employees is the same as mine. I'm not particularly worried about me. But I imagine staff likely don't want to sit in an enclosed office for 8-12 hours at a time and risk bringing COVID-19 home to their kids, who can't be vaccinated at this point.

    • Avatar

      bluvg

      It's definitely an interesting exercise in risk management at the societal level. On Apple's part, this is tantamount to admission they haven't accomplished much in the past year+. If it's not, then their return to work policy is unreasonable.


      I suppose some might attempt to defend not getting vaccinated as a First Amendment issue (which would be ironic as Free Speech is often under assault by the same people), but I really don't get why so few see this as a civic duty issue (something almost never talked about today, except for military service). It's also an interesting political strategy to push ideas that effectively kill part of your base, but it seems like crazy is just the norm now.

      • Avatar

        jdawgnoonan

        I do not think that the vaccines prevent a person's ability to catch and therefore pass the virus. It prevents severe illness from the virus. Therefore, I do not see why it would be a civic duty to get vaccinated, however I do believe that it is stupid to not get the vaccine.

        • Avatar

          bluvg

          That's a good point, since the tracking for asymptomatic breakthrough cases is almost certainly limited, outside of deliberate studies. I don't recall what I've read in that regard offhand, but there are the two separate issues of whether the transmissibility is reduced among asymptomatic breakthrough cases, and whether the prevalence of further mutation of concern is reduced with breakthrough cases. The data seems to suggest both.

        • Avatar

          cnc123

          My understanding is that the vaccines reduce, but do not prevent, contracting COVID-19.

    • Avatar

      anoldamigauser

      Unfortunately, resurgence is of concern because people are stupid. In a country where multiple effective vaccines are readily available, it is criminally selfish to not get vaccinated.


      With 2-degrees of separation, I know of a fully vaccinated person with a breakthrough infection of the Delta variant, who is now stranded overseas. The people travelling with this person tested negative, but have to isolate now for two weeks. While breakthroughs are rare, without containing this worldwide pandemic, there will be more variants, and some, no doubt will be resistant to the vaccines...oh wait, anti-vaxxers don't believe in evolution either, so we will all be OK.

      • Avatar

        mattbg

        Are breakthroughs really rare? Although it seems like it's rare for double-vaccinated people to be hospitalized or die, I didn't have the impression that it was rare for double-vaccinated people to get infected with COVID-19; they just may not know they are infected. Even the vaccine trials were concerned about symptoms rather than contagion for assessing efficacy.

        • Avatar

          jdawgnoonan

          Exactly, I have read nothing stating that is rare at all, and I have heard of enough breakthrough cases that I simply don't think it is rare. These vaccines, to my understanding, do not actually prevent infection much, but prevent severe illness well.

          • Avatar

            Maverick010

            Correct the Vaccine is more of a deterrent to prevent severe cases of sickness and can protect from catching COVID19 to some extent, but right now that part is probably around the same level as what we have with the Flu shots but slightly higher.


            I believe the vaccine acts to help us produce antibodies to fight the severe effects of the virus. I see it more like any vaccine. Problem this time is people over the years got mor ignorant to pandemics and getting shots, etc. That in part is what is still allowing this virus to run rampant and out of control.


            For Apple, a month is not going to do much especially as we are going to hit the cold weather, and be back to last year, where businesses kept delaying going back by a month, and eventually stayed to Working from home environments.


            If I look on the bright side, I have been working from home since this has happened myself, and cut down on gas and extra expenses from going to work, not to mention the commute. I also have enjoyed streaming services and the ability to watch some high profile movies right from my couch on my Home Theater Setup.

          • Avatar

            bluvg

            That's a good point, since the tracking for asymptomatic breakthrough cases is almost certainly limited, outside of deliberate studies. I don't recall what I've read in that regard offhand, but there are the two separate issues of whether the transmissibility is reduced among asymptomatic breakthrough cases, and whether the prevalence of further mutation of concern is reduced with breakthrough cases. The data seems to suggest both.

      • Avatar

        bluvg

        The much more dangerous virus is the "you have your facts, I have mine" infection of Unfalsifiable Belief. No amount of data or crystal-clear-cut evidence can convince otherwise, and total lack of support for a position means nothing. The abandonment of reason is the beginning of the end of humanity.

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