Apple has indefinitely delayed the date on which corporate employees will have to return to the office, according to a letter that CEO Tim Cook sent to staff on Wednesday. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Verge, said the company’s date for returning to work, was “yet to be determined,” and he encouraged all employees to get the coronavirus vaccine and booster.
“Our offices remain open and many of our colleagues are coming in regularly, including our teams in Greater China and elsewhere,” Cook wrote. “As we look forward to more of our teams being together again, we will continue to make decisions based on local conditions and will be sure to notify you at least four weeks before beginning the pilot.”
The news was first reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and NBC News’ Zoe Schiffer.
Cook also announced Wednesday that Apple would be giving all employees $1,000. “These funds are intended to help you with your home workspace and can be used as you see fit,” Cook wrote. Apple spokesperson Nick Leahy confirmed the $1,000 bonus to The Verge and says it will apply to every Apple employee, including retail workers.
An internal message to Apple employees said the $1,000 would appear in their next paychecks, and be subject to tax and withholding. “Keep in mind that when you return to the office, you’ll be bringing your Apple-owned equipment back, so you should consider what you’ll want for your home workspace,” the message reads.
The delay comes as COVID-19 cases rise and the omicron variant begins to spread. Workers were previously set to return to offices on February 1st in a hybrid work pilot announced internally in November. That itself was already delayed, and it’s not the first time Apple has announced such a delay; the company has shifted its pandemic-related return-to-office plans in the past.
Apple closed three retail stores this week in response to growing COVID-19 infections. On Tuesday, it began requiring customers to wear masks while inside its retail stores.
Cook told workers in the letter that he was “grateful” for their flexibility and resilience. “You continue to prove how much we can accomplish when we take on our challenges with boldness, creativity and — most importantly — together.”