Apple is planning to test a new “Retail Flex” program later this year, giving retail employees the ability to work “some weeks at their retail store location and other weeks remotely,” according to a new report from Bloomberg. Those employees working from home would be assigned to working on online sales, technical support, and customer service.
The report explains:
Creating such a program is an acknowledgment that the trend of greater online shopping accelerated by Covid-19 may continue despite economic re-openings and vaccine availability in many parts of the world. Workers will move between their store and remote roles depending on demand in stores versus online shopping during a particular period, the people said.
The iPhone maker is asking employees in the pilot program to participate for at least six months. Apple is planning to ramp up the arrangements from September to December, when the company is scheduled to release several new iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and AirPods. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the company’s plans for the retail workforce.
When Apple was forced to close its retail stores because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many retail employees were tasked with remote work to manage online sales and customer support. This new “Retail Flex” program is essentially a continuation of that even as Apple has since reopened all of its retail stores.
Apple will reportedly reimburse employees who participate in the Retail Flex pilot program up to $100 towards office equipment and pay for home internet expenses.
The announcement of a new Retail Flex program for Apple Store employees comes as Apple is planning a hybrid approach for corporate employees starting later this year. Starting in September, corporate employees will be expected to work in Apple offices on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday but will have the option to work from home on Wednesday and Friday.