Apple shelves its plan to get workers back into the office

Aerial photo of Apple new campus building
(Image credit: Uladzik Kryhin / Shutterstock)

Apple has delayed its plan to get workers back into the office for three days per week.

According to Bloomberg, Apple executives told employees that the plan, set to take effect on May 23, was being put on ice for "the time being" as Covid-19 cases rise again across the US. No new date was provided. 

The memo added that masks are now mandatory in common spaces across Apple's Silicon Valley offices. The company also reintroduced a mask mandate in around 100 US stores, after dropping the requirement in March. 

Office restrictions

The policy had already proved controversial with Apple employees, including causing the company's director of machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, to quit, directly citing the work from home policies as a cause. Interestingly, Goodfellow is now reported to have joined Alphabet's DeepMind unit, which presumably has a more relaxed approach to returning to the office. 

Employees had expressed concerns over the policies for some time – with Goodfellow's being the most obvious – citing concerns around commuting time taking time away from working. 

Apple did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comment. 

A tricky problem 

Apple is between something of a rock and a hard place with its policies, having been forced into remote work by the pandemic. The company is famously hands-on, especially for its design teams, which sits at odds with home work. 

Added to that, Apple also spent billions building the landmark Apple Park campus, which resembles a huge spaceship, likely adding to the desire by executives to get workers back into the building. 

Many workers have embraced hybrid working – enjoying the flexibility of working from home, especially those with children and pets. 

Various surveys show that workers aren't enjoying the return to offices and will look elsewhere for places that are more supportive of remote working. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.