Apple is asking its employees to come back to work. The company will be doing this in phases over the next few months.
According to Business Insider, Apple is doing this because its work is highly hardware-centric.
Apple’s push to return to office work comes as more and more tech companies are embracing the remote work culture.
Phase-by-phase return to office
Apple is adopting a phase-by-phase return to work as a way of resuming production that’s in line with state-mandated coronavirus safety protocols.
This includes discernment of who needs to come back right away and a series of protective measures designed to keep employees safe.
The first tranche of returning employees is mostly hardware engineers who can’t work on Apple products remotely. This phase has begun and includes employees who are having difficulties with remote-work setups.
The second wave of returns will include employees who have more flexible roles. This second wave will also be more lenient, as it will depend on local shelter-at-home restrictions.
Bloomberg reports that first wave returners will divide employees between two groups:
The first group comprises those who must absolutely work at the office. The second, meanwhile, are those who can afford to work at the office for only certain periods.
Secretive system pushes Apple to rethink work-from-home setup
The company’s strict return-to-work policy stems from its highly secretive business practices. Apple’s biggest revenue maker is currently its hardware sector, specifically the mobile and handheld departments.
The risk involved with letting employees take home prototypes and other sensitive material or data opens Apple up to potential leaks, something the company has taken great strides to prevent.
It restricts employee movement within its Cupertino campus in order to limit the spread of information on key projects.
Apple has had to let employees work from home for the past few months due to the pandemic. Only key personnel who are absolutely required to run Apple’s core administrative functions have been allowed to come to work.
It has even allowed employees to take home equipment and hardware.
Difficulty adapting to remote work
The company and its employees have had a rough time adapting to remote work, however. This is in stark contrast to other companies that have transitioned to more or less permanent work-from-home setups.
Employees have had a difficult time understanding which of their responsibilities can be adapted to remote work, says Business Insider. They’ve also had a difficult time accessing cloud-based systems key to their work.
Apple has yet to outline a full safety plan for its returning employees.