With coronavirus outbreaks across the United States continuing to spike, Apple is finding new roles for retail staff as it closes more of its store locations and is no longer expecting corporate employees to fully return to on-campus work in the U.S. in 2020, according to Bloomberg.
Apple has been forced to re-close many retail locations in the United States that had previously reopened, with stores in California, North Carolina, Florida, and more shuttered at the current time. In these locations, Apple is asking retail employees to work remotely in work from home support roles that the company has been offering since March.
Retail employees are able to serve as support advisors to handle online service requests and questions from customers unable to receive services in store. Apple has not made working from home in this way mandatory for retail employees and has continued to pay employee wages, but the company is now pushing retail employees unable to return to stores to participate in the work from home program as the need for customer support representatives has grown, leading to long wait times for service.
“If your store is closed, please sign up for Retail at Home, please talk to your manager, because we really need to make sure that we shift our teams to greet our customers remotely in this time,” O’Brien told staff in the video. “We may need to be working remotely for some period of time.”
“This is not the experience that we want to have for our customers,” O’Brien added. “So we really want to make sure that we are moving to where our customers are, to help them during this very challenging time. As you know people are really dependent upon their devices, especially right now.”
For retail employees who are able to return to work, Apple is requiring masks. Apple is providing name tag lanyards that can be customized with Memoji to help retail staff be more recognizable with masks on.
Along with encouraging retail employees to work from home, Apple has also made adjustments to its corporate plans. Apple told employees in a memo that it does not expect all of its U.S. office workers to be able to return to their jobs on site before the end of the year.
Apple’s offices in Europe and Asia, however, are expected to return to normal in the coming months with all employees returning to their jobs.
Some employees began returning to Apple’s Silicon Valley campuses in May. Employees who have come back to work are offered optional coronavirus testing, with Apple also shipping test kits to both its retail and corporate staff at home.
Apple is limiting the number of employees allowed in buildings and specific work areas, plus it is requiring masks and conducting temperature checks.