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Apple pushes back return-to-office plan, now said to be set for February

The tech giant also plans to adjust its hybrid work strategy to allow for more flexibility, after employees complained.

Apple computers
Apple was one of the first companies to warn about the pandemic. Now it's figuring out what the new normal will look like.
James Martin/CNET

Apple changed its return-to-office plans on Thursday, marking another shift for one of the world's largest tech giants as it navigates what work will look like once the COVID-19 pandemic comes under control.

The iPhone maker sent a memo to staff saying it plans to reopen offices in February, as opposed to earlier plans for January. The memo, reported earlier by The Information and NBC News, also tells workers that Apple will allow for a new "hybrid work pilot," which'll have many employees working out of the office one or two days per week. Ultimately, the company plans to let most employees work from home up to twice a week, on Wednesday and Friday, spending the rest of their work time in the office.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the internal memo.

The move marks a key moment for Apple as it charts plans for employees to return to the office. The tech giant has faced unusually public pushback from some employees who've asked it to consider more-flexible work options

In some cases, employees have moved away from the office during the pandemic, while others have said they're still tending to vulnerable family members or unvaccinated children at home. 

"We continue to be concerned that this one-size-fits-all solution is causing many of our colleagues to question their future at Apple," the employees said in a joint letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook this summer

Apple's leadership, meanwhile, has argued that it believes in-person collaboration is an essential part of the company's culture. Apple did tell employees that it'll allow up to four weeks of remote work each year, offering more opportunity for travel or change in routine.