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Apple is developing a hybrid work model for its retail employees that would sometimes allow them to work from home, reports Bloomberg.

apple-store-palo-alto.jpg

It may sound unusual for a retail employee to work from home, but in this case, it means that workers would be able to take on at-home support shifts in addition to their in-store shifts.

A "Retail Flex" pilot program is set to debut, which will see at-home employees handling online sales, customer service, and technical support as Apple expects that many people will continue to prefer online shopping over in-person shopping.

Apple retail stores were closed for much of 2020 amid the ongoing health crisis, but all retail locations have now reopened and are operational. When the pilot program launches, workers will move between their store and remote roles depending on demand in stores vs. online shopping at different times during the year. Salaries will remain constant regardless of where an employee is working.

Participants in the Retail Flex program are being asked to participate for at least six months, with the initiative to ramp up from September to December when new devices are set to launch. Employees will be reimbursed for some internet expenses and will receive $100 to put toward office equipment.

For corporate employees, Apple is implementing a work schedule that will see them returning to the office for three days a week starting in September. Some employees petitioned Apple for a more remote friendly work environment that would allow them to work from home permanently, but Apple's retail and people lead Deirdre O'Brien clarified that Apple's in-person work schedule is non-negotiable as in-person work is "essential" to Apple product development and company culture.

Article Link: Apple Developing Hybrid 'Retail Flex' Work From Home Program for Apple Store Employees
 
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Apple_Robert

Contributor
Sep 21, 2012
28,313
35,817
In the middle of several books.
Training is the key here. Some of those retail reps were clearly not trained when they took calls from home last year.
You are correct. I had that kind of frustrating experience as did some of my family. The Apple phone reps were very nice but, it was clear the person on the phone was a fish out of water.

If this pilot program can make customer service more streamlined and better, I think that that is a good thing.
 
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heystu

macrumors newbie
Jun 30, 2021
4
18
Norwich, UK
I think this is a great move on Apple's part - with hundreds of thousands of retail employees either being furloughed or made redundant during the pandemic it's awesome to see Apple trialling in-person-in-store and online-at-home working based on customer demand, putting the right people in the right place at the right time.
 
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KaliYoni

macrumors 6502
Feb 19, 2016
498
814
Will the at-home people have to wear the blue (or whatever the mandated color du jour is) t-shirt and lanyard thingy to work remotely? Skinny denim with carefully rolled cuffs? I don't want somebody with no pants, or worse, dad jeans, helping me! And what if peoples' kids, especially those of "Genius" workers, develop arrogant attitudes through osmosis?

;-)
 
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furqan8421

macrumors regular
Jun 27, 2007
140
239
I think its fine to do this, though I wonder where the overlap is between this and the roles previously held by multiple people. Not sure if this is a sign that there are fewer people willing to work either in store or over the phone and so this is making one person fulfill both roles?

Honestly not sure just wondering.

As it is I would think people are more likely to go in store as restrictions are easing. Ive never personally gone to an apple store that wasn't busy, regardless of time of day or week. If anything I would hope for more in store personnel rather than less to expedite things.
 
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Montana_Griz

macrumors newbie
Jun 15, 2021
20
24
I’m the director of production for a promotional company printing, assembling and selling tech-related merchandise (popgrips for phones, high-capacity USB drives, back-up batteries, etc—-if we can print on it or engrave it, we do it). Prior to Covid affecting the availability of the merchandise we were buying from (as luck would have it) Wuhan and other factories in Guandong region of China, and then the following 18 months of the pandemic affecting everything else in Seattle, we reduced our production staff from over 100, working 24/7, to 15 people working 9A to 5P, Monday through Friday. The sales and service people, art department and the other people who did non-production work were also reduced in number, and were allowed to work from home—-if they wanted. All but one took that option. Now we’re getting back to full capacity, and the production team are very happy to return to work. We made it clear to the other staff, though: you could be here Monday through Friday before the pandemic, so please plan on resuming your on-site work again, effective 1 September. I was happy the president/CEO made that decision, since we’ve been all about equality and equity from the start. A few of the office people took great umbrage with life returning to normal for the company and the expectation that everyone plays on the same team, turning in either immediate or eventual notices that they’re quitting their jobs. With the great availability of people in Seattle, I don’t foresee a challenge getting the positions filled quickly. Who wouldn’t like quarterly profit-sharing bonuses, up to four weeks PTO, 11 paid holidays, bringing your four-legged furries to work, tuition compensation and four blow-out company events every year? Well, apparently those who find commuting “gross” (a quote), and apparently a wealth of other better opportunities elsewhere. We’ll miss them, but we welcome a work environment of equity and inclusion for all workers.
It’s true: one can’t please everyone all the time, but efforts can be made to be fair to everyone, whenever possible.
 
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tongxinshe

macrumors 6502a
Feb 24, 2008
986
529
Here comes the next major product from Apple — Robot Avatar. People just remotely control their robot avatars to move around and interact with others.
 
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Montana_Griz

macrumors newbie
Jun 15, 2021
20
24
I think its fine to do this, though I wonder where the overlap is between this and the roles previously held by multiple people. Not sure if this is a sign that there are fewer people willing to work either in store or over the phone and so this is making one person fulfill both roles?

Honestly not sure just wondering.

As it is I would think people are more likely to go in store as restrictions are easing. Ive never personally gone to an apple store that wasn't busy, regardless of time of day or week. If anything I would hope for more in store personnel rather than less to expedite things.
Agreed. My mind went immediately to how Target and other retailers have been continually reducing their staff, so customers have to search them out to ask a question or get help. That’s not a like comparison I think Apple will want, if the current trend is customers flocking back to the retail stores in the metropolitan Seattle area. At the end of the day, if we’re willing to spend thousands on Apple electronics year after year, we want to have a good experience looking at it in person, holding it, and everything else prior to sharing the sixteen magical digits which allow for frothing satiety.
 
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jmgregory1

macrumors 68030
I’m the director of production for a promotional company printing, assembling and selling tech-related merchandise (popgrips for phones, high-capacity USB drives, back-up batteries, etc—-if we can print on it or engrave it, we do it). Prior to Covid affecting the availability of the merchandise we were buying from (as luck would have it) Wuhan and other factories in Guandong region of China, and then the following 18 months of the pandemic affecting everything else in Seattle, we reduced our production staff from over 100, working 24/7, to 15 people working 9A to 5P, Monday through Friday. The sales and service people, art department and the other people who did non-production work were also reduced in number, and were allowed to work from home—-if they wanted. All but one took that option. Now we’re getting back to full capacity, and the production team are very happy to return to work. We made it clear to the other staff, though: you could be here Monday through Friday before the pandemic, so please plan on resuming your on-site work again, effective 1 September. I was happy the president/CEO made that decision, since we’ve been all about equality and equity from the start. A few of the office people took great umbrage with life returning to normal for the company and the expectation that everyone plays on the same team, turning in either immediate or eventual notices that they’re quitting their jobs. With the great availability of people in Seattle, I don’t foresee a challenge getting the positions filled quickly. Who wouldn’t like quarterly profit-sharing bonuses, up to four weeks PTO, 11 paid holidays, bringing your four-legged furries to work, tuition compensation and four blow-out company events every year? Well, apparently those who find commuting “gross” (a quote), and apparently a wealth of other better opportunities elsewhere. We’ll miss them, but we welcome a work environment of equity and inclusion for all workers.
It’s true: one can’t please everyone all the time, but efforts can be made to be fair to everyone, whenever possible.
I’m kind of surprised people aren’t excited to go back to working with colleagues in office, if for no other reason than the social connection so many of us have missed over the past year. On the other hand, I would think that many businesses could and probably should be looking at changing from the former all in-office work to a hybrid, as there can be benefits beyond employee happiness - like reducing energy consumption in company facilities, and getting more work time out of employees working from home. I’ve been remote working for 12+ years and although I’ll admit that there are times when I’ll run an errand during the day, or doing laundry, or writing a post on MacRumors, I’m more than making up for those times when I’m answering emails at 3am or taking calls at 7pm. Of course I was also doing these things when I was going into the office…
 
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fernelius

macrumors member
Mar 24, 2007
85
93
While reading this article, I was dreaming of sales reps who would do sales and service from their homes so that I wouldn't have to drive so far to the Apple Store. I guess it's a bit optimistic to imagine an Apple Store employee driving nearly 400 miles to work including through a mountain pass AND being available here to sell and service Apple products. :D
 
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alexandr

macrumors 68030
Nov 11, 2005
2,957
4,905
11201-121099
While reading this article, I was dreaming of sales reps who would do sales and service from their homes so that I wouldn't have to drive so far to the Apple Store. I guess it's a bit optimistic to imagine an Apple Store employee driving nearly 400 miles to work including through a mountain pass AND being available here to sell and service Apple products. :D
i think you may be onto something — apple prime :)
 
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DrV

macrumors regular
Sep 25, 2007
155
260
Northern Europe
Not everyone finds idle chit-chat to be valuable.
Being in the office is not about having more of that idle chit-chat.

I am involved in high-tech industry, and it is easy to see innovations require social contacts between people. While introvert development engineers loved to keep at home in the beginning, the lack of novel innovations has become more and more visible. Meeting people means exchanging ideas, and new things happen at intersections.

Of course, if everyone is in their cubicle with their headphones on, it is no different from being elsewhere. And, yes, there may be bad culture in the office, where chit-chatters are spending their and everyone else's time. But if you really want to create something new, you need to have people meeting other people. Also, negotiations tend to be easier and quicker IRL vs. online meetings, as building trust is not that simple in virtual meetings (no body language, easy to miss tone, more difficult to understand what people say).

Sometimes people are very efficient when working at home. However, this comes with a price tag in many cases. Senior specialists are happy, because they can concentrate on their work without nobody interrupting. The flipsaide is that juniors do not get the support and do not become specialists.

I am not against WFH. I have been doing it for over two decades, and even before this spiky little bugger sent everyone home I spent more than half of my working time at home. Still, I am very skeptical towards 100 % WFH. It may be successful in some cases and with some people, but not as a general rule.
 
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T Coma

macrumors 6502
Dec 3, 2015
370
679
Flyover Country, USA
Indeed. Having unrealistic expectations of them!
I know! Like having at least as much knowledge of their company's products as their customers do. Unrealistic!

Most recently tried activating my kid's watch with it's own number but linked to my phone. The rep was "sure" it could not be done that way. I suppose I unrealistically expected him to at least have seen the commercial, much less to have been trained on it at work.

Stopped by TMobile and they had it working correctly in moments. Indeed.
 
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amartinez1660

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2014
1,045
942
That Apple Store looks so empty, hardy a soul around. Maybe Apple ought to go to an all-remote model where they don't have brick and mortar stores anymore and everything is done on-line.
It might be a render or a treated image taken at a careful time. Those people looking like that towards the inside of the store look like the ones sprinkled around in architectural renderings.
 
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