Apple softens its stance on remote work amid return-to-office delays

Staff can stay at home if they're not comfortable.

Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Apple is once again delaying its return to the office, and this time it will be less strict about in-person work. The New York Times understands that Apple has delayed the return to offices once again. The iPhone maker will no longer require staff to come to the office three times a week by May 23rd. Instead, the company will reportedly launch a pilot that has some employees return two days a week in the "weeks ahead." Anyone who doesn't feel comfortable can still work remotely, according to a company note.

While Apple didn't share many other details, it promised at least two weeks' notice before any changes. The test will require that in-person workers wear masks in common spaces and elevators.

We've asked Apple for comment. The delay was reportedly prompted by an increase in COVID-19 cases, and comes after multiple setbacks that included the coronavirus' more transmissible Omicron variant. Until this latest hurdle, Apple had wanted in-person work at least once per week in April and twice per week as of May 2nd.

The company may not have had much choice regardless of the exact infection levels. Thousands of Apple workers have pushed back against the return-to-office plans as part of an "Apple Together" movement. In early May, the alliance published an open letter asking management for more flexibility in remote work. The company's director for machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, even quit over the return-to-office policy. Apple risked further stoking tensions, and potentially losing more talent, if it continued with its earlier plans.