Apple asks retail store workers to take on remote tech support roles

Apple is asking retail store employees to temporarily take on remote tech support roles while stores remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retail workers will still be paid if they don’t participate.

Apple tech support. Image: Apple Fifth Avenue
Apple Fifth Avenue

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

A subset of retail staff are participating in the program to become work-from-home AppleCare employees so the company has enough workers to handle customer requests.

The company quietly piloted the move in recent weeks before prodding many employees this week to take part. In a video message on Friday, Apple retail chief Deirdre O’Brien said the effort “has been going great.”

Several store workers were sent forms to sign up and those who don’t want to are asked to explain why. The employees asked not to be identified speaking about internal issues. Still, the program is not mandatory, and Apple confirmed that all retail employees, regardless of participation, are being paid their full salaries and benefits.

MacDailyNews Take: Pretty much everyone stuck to this rock floating though space is being asked to adjust and deal with things outside of their comfort zones, so good luck to everybody, including Apple retail store workers who decide to take on remote tech support roles!

Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. — Steve Jobs

There is a light at the end of the tunnel here for Apple as Gurman reports that, in messages to employees, O’Brien said Apple stores would reopen on a case-by-case basis depending on local conditions, possibly as soon as the first half of April. Of course, with President Trump on Sunday extending nationwide social distancing guidelines through April 30th, it’s very possible that Apple Stores won’t be opening in the U.S. before May at the earliest.

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