Apple will begin phasing in its planned hybrid work pilot on April 11th, bringing employees back to the office one day a week to start, according to an email from CEO Tim Cook to Apple employees, which was seen by The Verge. Apple originally announced its plans for a hybrid work pilot in November.
In the third week of the pilot, Cook writes, employees will come in twice a week, with the full hybrid pilot — where workers will come into the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and work “flexibly” on Wednesday and Friday — would go into effect May 23rd. The timing may vary from office to office depending on local conditions, Cook added.
“For many of you, I know that returning to the office represents a long-awaited milestone and a positive sign that we can engage more fully with the colleagues who play such an important role in our lives,” he wrote. “For others, it may also be an unsettling change. I want you to know that we are deeply committed to giving you the support and flexibility that you need in this next phase.” He added that the hybrid plan includes an option to work remotely for up to four weeks a year.
“As we begin this pilot, we are looking forward to learning as we go and adjusting where we need to, all in service of fostering a really collaborative and flexible approach to our work together,” Cook wrote. “In the coming weeks and months, we have an opportunity to combine the best of what we have learned about working remotely with the irreplaceable benefits of in-person collaboration.”
Cook also said in the email that Apple’s retail stores will revert to being mask-optional “over the next few weeks.”
Apple has changed the return-to-office date several times amid the ebb and flow of coronavirus cases and restrictions; most recently, Apple “indefinitely delayed” the office return, which had been scheduled for February 1st. It’s also begun dropping mask requirements for Apple retail customers in some areas.
Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from The Verge on Friday.
The full text of Cook’s email is below:
As our response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, I’d like to share an update on our plans to return to our offices.
In many locations, officials have started lifting pandemic restrictions in accordance with the guidance of public health experts. And based on the latest data, we are optimistic that this progress will continue into the spring.
While many of you have been coming in regularly for quite some time, we are now looking forward to welcoming those of you who shifted to working remotely back to our corporate offices. In the United States, beginning on April 11, we’ll begin the phased approach to the hybrid pilot, with teams returning to the office initially one day a week, and then, beginning in the third week, two days a week. This transitional period will now be extended from four to six weeks.
We will then begin the hybrid pilot in full on May 23, with people coming to the office three days a week — on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday — and working flexibly on Wednesday and Friday if you wish.
Though the timing may vary to some degree in different countries/sites based on local conditions, we will follow the same process wherever we are not yet back in the office. You’ll hear more details from your local teams on specific timing as it applies to your location.
As a reminder, our offices and many services like Caffè Macs and our espresso bars are currently open and many people are already coming in each week. Between now and April 11, I encourage you to join them, whether it’s to grab coffee with a colleague, check out your workspace, or hold a team meeting.
Due to the decline in active cases, most, if not all of Apple’s U.S. sites will revert to being mask-optional over the next few weeks. As always, we will continue monitoring local conditions and are prepared to adjust our protocols as necessary for the health of our teams and communities. I also want to make clear that you are always welcome to wear a mask and you should feel comfortable doing so. And I want to reiterate the vital importance of getting the vaccine and a booster if you are able to. You can always find the latest on our protocols on Welcome Forward.
For many of you, I know that returning to the office represents a long-awaited milestone and a positive sign that we can engage more fully with the colleagues who play such an important role in our lives. For others, it may also be an unsettling change. I want you to know that we are deeply committed to giving you the support and flexibility that you need in this next phase — a commitment that begins with this gradual introduction of our hybrid pilot and includes the option to work remotely for up to four weeks a year. If you have any questions, you can find more details on the People site.
As we begin this pilot, we are looking forward to learning as we go and adjusting where we need to, all in service of fostering a really collaborative and flexible approach to our work together.
In the meantime, I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to being together again. And I want to thank each and every one of you. Whether you’ve been working from home or coming into our stores, labs, or offices, you have been an essential part of this incredible team, and I am so grateful for all that you bring to Apple.
In the coming weeks and months, we have an opportunity to combine the best of what we have learned about working remotely with the irreplaceable benefits of in-person collaboration. It is as important as ever that we support each other through this transition, through the challenges we face as a team and around the world. I look forward to being together and to learning together during this pilot as we continue to build on the culture that makes Apple such an incredible place.
Zoë Schiffer contributed reporting