As Apple, Google and Amazon Delay Office Returns, How Other Companies Can Take Note

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( — August 10, 2021) — As 2021 beckoned and vaccines started rolling out, many people unsurprisingly expected the world’s then-intense COVID crisis to look a lot rosier by the following summer. However, the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has complicated matters and thrown back-to-work plans into disarray. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data recently shared by Commercial Observer, the variant now accounts for over 93% of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States. This situation helps to explain why three of the country’s largest tech giants – Apple, Google, and Amazon – have all recently opted to delay when their employees are expected to return to the office.

What’s the picture with these three tech titans?

Until recently, Amazon was planning to ask its corporate workers worldwide to start coming back to offices by September 7. However, in early August, Amazon told CNN Business that it had decided to push the return date back to January 3, 2022. 

Google had earlier said that it would postpone its own workers’ office return date from September 1 to October 18. Meanwhile, Apple – previously eyeing a September reopening – has chosen to delay this by at least a month, as per a recent admission by Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

“Everyone believed the vaccine was the best defense against mitigating the virus or reducing its risk,” Joanna Frank, president and CEO of the Center for Active Design, observed to Commercial Observer, adding that “now, folks are feeling that we don’t necessarily have the solution”.

She reflected on the increasingly widespread realization that “the risk is something that we’re going to have to deal with in the longer term, and that we can’t just go back to the way things were before.” So, what could all of this suggest for various companies’ return-to-the-office plans? 

Apple and Google have both seen employee revolts 

While Apple and Google have both been looking to slowly reintroduce in-person work to their respective employee bases, many of the employees themselves have objected, insisting that remote work should be left on the table as a permanent option. 

As reported in a Medium article, Google employees have felt “angry” at the search giant’s ‘hybrid’ work policy, where they would be required to spend at least a portion of their workweek in the office. One site reliability engineer said they had decided to leave Google because the company “doesn’t prioritize the needs of human beings” with “lives outside of work”.

Similarly, some Apple employees recently sent Cook a letter complaining: “Many of us feel we have to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being, and being empowered to do our best work, or being a part of Apple.” 

Therefore, companies could benefit from looking into new ways to let their workforces continue operating remotely. These companies could, for example, hold webinars for training purposes – though they would need a webinar platform in order to do so. What is a webinar platform? This is a tool that would allow companies to set up webinars meeting their own requirements.