Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, shared new details about the company’s plan to return to the office during a town hall virtual meeting with employees Thursday.
Cook said it was “likely” that the majority of the teams won’t be back until June 2021. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant has had an office-centric culture in the past, but the CEO implied that the company’s success this year during the pandemic lockdown could allow more flexibility for remote work in the future.
Nonetheless, Cook has publicly maintained his wish that employees eventually return to the office.
“There’s no substitute for in-person collaboration, but we’ve also learned a lot about how we can get our work done outside of the office without affecting productivity or results,” he told staff, according to people familiar with the comments . “All of these insights are important. If we find ourselves on the other side of this pandemic, we will preserve everything that is great about Apple while also incorporating the best of our transformations this year. “
Cook added that due to the challenges of the past few months, Apple will be giving employees in many regions an additional paid vacation for January 4th. Other companies, including Alphabet’s Google, recently gave employees an extra paid day off.
The Apple employee fundraising program is having the strongest year ever, according to the CEO. Since the initiative began, more than $ 591 million (approximately Rs 4,300 million) has been donated to charities, and employees have volunteered more than 1.6 million hours. The company is donating $ 5 million (approximately Rs 36 million) to organizations helping those injured by COVID-19, Cook said.
Several other Apple executives spoke at the town hall meeting, including chiefs of retail, legal, environmental, marketing, services, hardware engineering, software development, operations, and machine learning.
Dan Riccio, senior vice president of hardware engineering, described remote working as “a major challenge” to device design, which is typically done in laboratory environments. He said the March travel restrictions are particularly severe as engineers typically travel to China to start manufacturing products that will be launched in the fall.
Apple got around that, and engineers have controlled robots from their homes and used iPads with augmented reality software to guide technicians in factories overseas, Riccio said. The employees also worked different hours to better communicate with the employees already stationed in China. “The best is yet to come,” added Riccio. According to Bloomberg News, the company is focused on developing augmented reality and virtual reality hardware products for debut in the years to come.
Johny Srouji, Head of Custom Chip Development, told employees about a cellular modem that was under development this year.
Jeff Williams, chief operating officer, said Apple’s design team “discovered new ways of working remotely,” while operations manager Sabih Khan praised his team’s ability to manufacture products with minimal delays this year.
Eddy Cue spoke about Apple’s services this year, Lisa Jackson about Apple’s climate change pledge, Deirdre O’Brien about the retail effort amid COVID-19, while John Giannandrea talked about AI efforts, including the announcement that Apple is releasing its Apple Check out the hand wash feature this year.
© 2020 Bloomberg LP
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