Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees Thursday that the company is pushing back its return to office plan until February, according to an internal email.
Cook said employees will be asked to come in one to two days a week for the first month. In March, it will implement its hybrid work plan, in which the majority of workers will be asked to come in Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In June, Cook announced that employees would be asked to return to in-person work three days a week starting in early September. The news sparked significant pushback internally, with thousands of employees joining a Slack channel to discuss remote work advocacy.
That plan was pushed to January due to the rise of the delta variant, quieting employees who were concerned about returning to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cook said employees whose work requires them to come into the office more frequently will be asked to return four to five days a week. He encouraged all staff members to get vaccinated. So far, the company has stopped short of implementing a vaccine mandate.
Apple's hybrid work plan is a significant shift for the tech giant, which historically discouraged working from home. But it's still more conservative than plans announced at Facebook and Twitter, which have embraced fully remote working models.
Some parts of the United States are still dealing with major Covid-19 outbreaks. While waves that hit the Southeast have passed, parts of New England are dealing with rising case numbers and hospitalizations. In early November, hospitals in Colorado had to turn some patients away due to a Covid surge.
Cook's full memo can be read below:
It's hard to believe we're already in the home stretch of 2021. As I reflect on this extraordinary year, I'm so proud of what we've been able to achieve. Together, we have launched some of Apple's best products ever. We are making important strides in our efforts to protect the environment and build a more equitable world. And we are touching the lives of countless people, providing them with the tools to connect, create, learn, and grow.
Most remarkably, we have achieved all of this with many of our teams working remotely as we've navigated the uncertainty of the pandemic. This experience has taught us a great deal about flexible work, while also reminding us of the irreplaceable value of in-person collaboration. We are eager to carry these lessons forward, and with that in mind, I want to share our current plans for returning to the office in the months ahead. Know that, as we've done all along, we are monitoring local conditions closely and are prepared to make necessary adjustments to our planning.
As of today, we are targeting February 1, 2022 to begin our hybrid work pilot in many global locations where teams have not yet returned to our corporate offices. We plan to start the pilot with a phased approach, welcoming people back to the office for one or two days a week for an initial period of four weeks. After this transitional period, we will begin the pilot in full, with eligible teams in the office three days a week, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and with flexibility to work remotely on Wednesday and Friday. You'll receive more details about how the first four-week phase will roll out as we get closer to the return date.
As I noted when we announced our hybrid work pilot, we do have a number of teams whose work requires a greater need to work in-person, and they will come into the office four or five days a week based on the plans for these specific teams. Those plans will depend on your role and may differ according to your location. If you have any questions about your schedule, please talk to your manager.
I am so looking forward to more of our teams being back together again. Our Retail store teams have been welcoming customers and offering the personal care and service they have come to expect from us. Some of our teams internationally have also returned to their offices and are benefiting from the ability to see one another and collaborate face to face. And nearly half of our Silicon Valley employees have been coming into the office at some point each week. Based on those experiences, we are confident in our protocols and our ability to ensure a thriving environment for everyone.
At the same time, we are committed to giving you more flexibility as we move forward. In addition to the option of working remotely twice a week on Wednesday and Friday, we announced this summer that team members would be able to work remotely for up to two weeks per year with a manager's approval. I'm pleased to share that we're increasing the amount of time you can work remotely to a total of four weeks per year. This provides more opportunity to travel, be closer to your loved ones, or simply shake up your routines.
As we prepare to begin this new pilot, I want to reiterate that we remain focused, first and foremost, on the health and well-being of our teams and your families. We know that vaccination is the most important step we can take for our own health and the health of our communities, and is the best way to prevent the severity and spread of the virus. We will continue to closely review government guidance and requirements around vaccination. In the meantime, we strongly encourage everyone who is able to get the vaccine to do so if it's available to you.
We recognize the situation with the pandemic is dynamic and are prepared to adjust our timing, approach, and protocols—such as masking, distancing, vaccination requirements, and other measures—as necessary based on local conditions.
We look forward to this next phase of our journey, and to adjusting as we learn. We've all adapted so much since early 2020 and we are deeply committed to a more flexible environment.
As we head into the holiday season, I have been reflecting on my gratitude for each and every one of you. Thank you all for your passion, your perseverance, and your phenomenal work this year and always. I can't wait to see you soon.