In the United States, Apple has told its employees that it does not anticipate a full return to physical offices “before the end of the year.” In Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions, however, Apple says it does “anticipate full resumption will take place over the coming months based on local conditions” for “many” offices.
Apple is also continuing to adjust its retail operations in the United States. The company has reclosed many of its retail stores due to increases in COVID-19 cases, as we’ve been following in detail here. In light of that, Apple continues to encourage retail staff to sign up and work from home through Apple’s Retail at Home program. In a video shared with retail employees over the weekend, Apple executive Deirdre O’Brien said:
“If your store is closed, please sign up for Retail at Home, please talk to your manager, because we really need to make sure that we shift our teams to greet our customers remotely in this time. We may need to be working remotely for some period of time.”
O’Brien emphasized that some customers have had “significant wait times” when seeking support for their devices:
“This is not the experience that we want to have for our customers,” O’Brien added. “So we really want to make sure that we are moving to where our customers are, to help them during this very challenging time. As you know people are really dependent upon their devices, especially right now.”
For stores that are open, Apple is also planning a new Memoji feature:
In the video, O’Brien also told staff that, beginning later this month, they will get name tag lanyards for use in store that they can customize with their own Memoiji, Apple’s system for users to create virtual avatars of themselves on the iPhone. This will help retail staff be more recognizable while they wear face masks, she said.
Finally, the report says that Apple has also started a COVID-19 testing program that allows retail and corporate employees working remotely to take COVID-19 tests at home. Through the program, tests will be shipped to employees, and then the kit can be sent off to a testing site for processing.
Today’s report from Bloomberg comes as Apple’s home state of California has announced a major rollback of its reopening process due to a surge in COVID-19. California is closing indoor operations statewide for restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, zoos and card rooms, and bars. In the hardest-hit counties, California is also closing indoor operations for fitness centers, places of worship, non-critical offices, hair salons and barbershops and malls.
As of right now, Apple Stores in and around San Francisco, Sacramento, and San Jose remain reopened, but it’s highly possible that will change soon.