First the date for Apple employees to return to the office was set for last June. That ended up getting shifted to September, and then three more times after that, with the latest target mapped out for Feb. 1. Now, once more thanks to COVID, yet another postponement, and this one is indefinite. "We are delaying the start of our hybrid work pilot to a date yet to be determined," CEO Tim Cook told workers Wednesday in a memo confirmed by Bloomberg, CNN Business, and other sources. The reason: "rising [COVID] cases in many parts of the world and the emergence of a new strain of the virus," per Cook.
The move for the company based in Cupertino, Calif., comes just after it reimplemented a mask mandate at all of its US retail sites, a few of which have been shut down due to worker infections. CNN notes that Apple isn't alone in its struggle to get back to the office, especially now with the omicron variant floating around: Amazon, Google, Uber, and Lyft have seen similar delays. When a new return date is set, Cook assures employees they'll get at least a month's notice to prepare, with any such decision made "based on local conditions," according to his memo.
A bit of good news for Apple employees was also included in Cook's missive, with an announcement that all employees, including retail workers, will be getting a $1,000 bonus "in support of our commitment to a more flexible environment." The funds are meant to be used to help employees better set up a work-from-home space if needed, though Cook noted the money "can be used as you see fit." (Read more Apple stories.)