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Apple reportedly delays return to office until January amid COVID surge

Employees were told in July that they would return in October.

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Kent German/CNET
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Apple reportedly told corporate employees on Thursday that their expected return to the office will be delayed until January amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and variants.

The iPhone maker said in a memo to employees that it will confirm the reopening timeline a month before employees are expected to return to the office, Bloomberg reported late Thursday. The new delay comes a month after Apple told employees they would be expected back in the office in October, which followed an earlier return target of September.

The company's offices have largely sat empty for the past year, with its employees working remotely as businesses all over the world shuttered facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But as cases initially dipped in late spring and early summer, Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly told employees in June that they would be expected to return to the office three days a week.

The resurgence of COVID and especially the emergence of the delta variant has led tech companies to reconsider their reopening plans. IBM on Wednesday reportedly notified employees that it will temporarily close its offices in New York City amid rising COVID-19 cases. 

Apple employees have been especially vocal in pressing for a delay, saying that decisions on the frequency of remote work should be left up to individual teams and that there shouldn't be a "one-size-fits-all policy."

The company has said internally that it believes in-person collaboration is an essential part of its culture.

See also: You may be COVID 'carded': How to store your vaccine card on your iPhone or Android