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Apple staff to return to a different kind of office starting June 15

Apple is planning to reopen its California-based headquarters on June 15 after an extended period of remote working that was prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.

An internal memo seen by Bloomberg revealed that the return to Apple Park in Silicon Valley will take place gradually, with the majority of workers unlikely to see their desks again for at least several months.

The plan follows similar arrangements recently laid out by other Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook as the tech industry makes tentative efforts to return to some semblance of normality.

The beginning of the phased return will be “very limited,” Apple’s memo said, and those coming back will be “strongly encouraged” to take company-provided COVID-19 tests.

New rules will limit the number of people inside any single office space so that social distancing can be observed, and workers will be asked to wear masks as part of measures to prevent the spread of any infections.

Regular temperature checks will also take place to see if any employees have a fever, which could indicate that they have the virus. Apple said recently that deep cleans of its offices will become part of regular safety procedures, too.

While the official return will begin next week, Bloomberg reported that a small number of Apple workers — including some senior executives and engineers working on hardware and software — started to go back last month.

In a memo to workers in early March, Apple boss Tim Cook described the pandemic as an “unprecedented event” and a “challenging moment,” and told staff to work from home “if your job allows.”

Facebook plans to begin its phased return in July and will introduce similar safety measures to Apple such as daily temperature checks. Twitter, meanwhile, recently told some of its staff that they can work from home “forever” if they wish to do so.

With Apple expecting to launch a number of products this year, the company will be keen to put the disruption of recent months behind it. But various pandemic-related issues may have already caused the launch of the iPhone 12, for example, to be pushed back, according to some reports. There’s been no official word from Apple on the issue, so the new handset could yet meet the company’s usual September launch date.

Digital Trends has reached out to Apple for more information on its reported decision to return staff to Apple Park and we will update this article when we hear back.

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