Apple CEO Tim Cook offers staff working from home option over coronavirus

Apple expands remote working offer to staff in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has sent a memo to Apple's staff around the globe in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak offering them the opportunity to work remotely if the job permits it. 

Cook described the coronavirus outbreak as an "unprecedented event" and "challenging moment", according to the staff memo seen by Bloomberg

Staff were offered by Cook the option to work remotely for the week of March 9 to March 13 "if the job allows". 

The policy is aimed at Apple's areas with the "greatest density of infections" and applies to staff in offices in California, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK. 

SEE: Working from home: Success tips for telecommuters (free PDF)

The decision expands on Apple's offer for employees in California and Seattle to work remotely last week. Apple was "making a major effort to reduce human density and ensure those teams that are on-site can do their work safely and with peace of mind," said Cook.   

Apple is also making changes to reduce the "human density" at Apple classes and Genius Bar appointments, as well as introducing "deep cleanings". 

Cook additionally told staff with a fever or cough to not come into work until they'd recovered, to wash their hands, not touch their face and follow quarantine instructions if they'd returned from areas where a coronavirus outbreak had occurred.   

Australia has imposed travel bans and 14-day quarantine exclusions on people who visited China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Dozens of major tech conferences scheduled for March and April have been cancelled and replaced with webcasts with events cancelled including Facebook's F8 conference and Google I/O, both of which are usually held in May.

SEE: Coronavirus/COVID-19: Changes I've made to my home office to make it cleaner, healthier and safer

Apple hasn't said yet whether it will continue or cancel its huge annual Worldwide Developers Conference in 2020. The event is usually held in June. The company last month however lowered its guidance due to the coronavirus impacting key suppliers in China, such as Hon Hai Precision Industry, the parent of Apple supplier Foxconn.   

Foxconn last week predicted that its output would bounce back in coming weeks after a setback in February, due to the coronavirus.