Apple CEO Cook opts for employees to work from home; calls COVID-19 ‘challenging’

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Apple leases new offices near to Apple Park Apple Park is likely to be a ghost town this week.
Photo: Duncan Sinfield

CEO Tim Cook has told Apple employees at company headquarters and other locations around the world to “please feel free to work remotely if your job allows” this week.

This is in response to the novel coronavirus disease that’s spreading across the United States.

“This is a challenging moment,” Cook said to employees in a memo. His message was leaked to Bloomberg, but a company spokesperson confirmed the details.

An Apple employee, who asked not to be identified, told Cult of Mac the memo was sent to employees Saturday.

As of today, COVID-19 has sickened over 108,000 people and killed 3,782, of which 19 have died in the US.

Avoiding COVID-19 not only in Cupertino

Cook’s suggestion that employees work from home the week of March 9 through March 13 doesn’t just apply at the company’s headquarters. He told workers in “areas with the greatest density of infections” they needn’t come into the office during that period. That covers Washington’s state, but also several countries in Europe and Asia.

Apple’s head used the memo to talk about “new efforts to maximize interpersonal space and continuing enhanced deep cleanings.” The company will work to reduce crowding at its retail stores, including at the Genius Bar and during “Today at Apple” classes. It had already canceled these classes across Italy and in some stores located in Seattle and San Francisco.

Not surprisingly, Cook also urged employees to not come to work if they are showing the symptoms of COVID-19.

These moves follow recommendations from California health authorities to encourage telecommuting and to reduce the number of employees working within arm’s length of one another.

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