Apple Announces The Closure Of All Stores Outside China Until March 27

Apple has announced that due to the global spread of COVID-19, it will be closing all of its retail stores outside of Greater China until March 27.

Flexible Working

A statement on the Apple website (Newsroom) highlighted how Apple is adopting “flexible work arrangements worldwide outside of Greater China”.

Apple also said that those staff members whose work still requires them to be on-site will be following guidance to maximize interpersonal space.  Also, the statement highlights the “extensive, deep cleaning” that is taking place on all of Apple’s sites, and the fact the Apple is rolling out health screenings and temperature checks.

Paid As Usual

The statement also makes it clear that despite the temporary closures, flexible and remote working, Apple’s staff will be paid as usual, and that the company’s leave policies have been expanded to take account of personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19, such as recovering from illness, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining, or childcare challenges resulting from school closures.

Worldwide Developers Conference Online

Apple has recently announced that its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June will be held entirely in an online format this year.  Despite this change in format, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, is choosing to see it as an “opportunity” and as an “innovative way” to bring the global developer community together with “a new experience”.

New COVID-19 News Section

In an attempt to help its users avoid fake news about the global health crisis, and to boost its credibility as a trusted brand, Apple has also announced the launch of a new COVID-19 news section, where, it says that its users will find the “latest verified reporting from trusted news outlets”.

Trusted For The Election

Even though the world is in the midst of a health crisis, the US election is still likely to be happening in November.  Apple also has plans to establish itself as a trusted news source then through its own, curated Apple News coverage of the election where it will feature “reliable” news, information and data from multiple trusted news sources.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For Apple employees, the opportunity to work flexibly and more safely from home, still receive pay as normal and receive the benefits of more favourable company leave policies is likely to be very welcome. These moves by Apple also show the company in a very positive ethical and caring light, which many would see as being consistent with its public brand values.

Closing stores only until March 27 (just over a week from now), however, may be seen by some as a trifle optimistic, and could mean that employees in those stores may be very nervous about the thought of having to go back to any customer-facing roles when the illness still has a lot further to spread before it begins to slow down.  It remains to be seen whether Apple extends this date in the light of unfolding events.