Apple, in a blow to its efforts to restore normalcy to its operations, has suspended its requirement that employees return to the office this month for at least three days a week because of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
The reversal was welcome news for thousands of employees who pushed back against the company’s demand that they begin coming to the office three days a week in late May. Early this month, the group, which calls itself “Apple Together,” published a letter calling on the executive team to allow for a hybrid and flexible work schedule, saying they could collaborate remotely using online tools such as Slack and spare themselves hours of commuting.
One of Apple’s leading artificial intelligence engineers, Ian Goodfellow, resigned in early May because of the office return policy. Mr. Goodfellow didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment.
Apple said in a note to employees on Tuesday that it would proceed with a pilot program to bring some workers back to the office twice a week in the weeks ahead. It said anyone in that program who felt “uncomfortable coming into the office” would have the “option to work remotely.”
The company also asked that employees who do come to campus wear masks in common areas and elevators. It said it would continue to monitor Covid cases and provide employees with updates at least two weeks before any future changes to its office policy.
The pandemic hit less than a year after Apple celebrated the opening of its new, $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., a splashy circular building that resembles a spaceship. It has largely sat unused for the past two years.