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Thursday, January 20, 2022

How tech companies are preparing for new COVID variant

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Just when we were getting over the deadly delta variant of COVID-19 and the world was turning into a happier space, Omicron happened. The new COVID variant has already started spreading worldwide, and countries including India have begun taking necessary measures to combat the spread. Also Read – Meta warns 50,000 users about being targeted by mercenary spy firms

Tech companies were among the most affected industries during the second COVID wave. From factories shut down to supply chain constraints, the pandemic majorly hit the technology world especially the smartphone and automobile industry. Taking this into consideration, tech giants such as Apple, Meta, Google, among others have already announced actions they are taking to combat the spread of the new COVID-19 variant. Also Read – Indian cyber security expert gets around 3.5 lakh from Google for reporting a bug in Android

In the latest development, Apple has announced to delay its return-to-office timeline from February 1 to a “date yet to be determined”. CEO Tim Cook informed the move via a memo and said, “we are delaying the start of our hybrid work pilot to a date yet to be determined.” Cook further added, “our offices remain open and many of our colleagues are coming in regularly, including our teams in Greater China and elsewhere.” Also Read – Google warns Chrome users to update browser immediately

Cook said that “rising cases in many parts of the world and the emergence of a new strain of the virus.” He also encouraged employees to receive vaccinations and booster shots immediately and said, “this is by far the best way to keep you and your community safe.” To recall, the Cupertino-based tech giant previously delayed office-return plans from June, September, October, and January.

Right before delaying the return-to-office timeline, the company restored its mask mandate to all US retail stores and temporarily shut three locations due to rising COVID cases among employees.

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Alongside Apple, other tech giants such as Microsoft, Google, Meta, and others have also announced measures they are taking to control the spread of the new COVID variant.

Microsoft recently delayed its return-to-work date in September. Adding to the list is Google. The tech giant announced that employees will no longer need to work from the office at the beginning of January. Previously, the company had announced to reopen the office for everyone from January.

Google recently said that its employees will lose pay and eventually be fired if they do not follow COVID-19 vaccination rules. A memo circulated by Google stated that employees had until December 3 to declare their vaccination status, post which the company said it would start contacting employees who didn’t upload their status or were unvaccinated.

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Facebook’s parent company Meta also announced a program to allow employees to push their January in-person office return by up to five months.

Besides tech giants, automobile companies like Ford and ridesharing services Uber and Lyft also announced to push back return to office policy. Auto giant Ford announced to push back its return to the office from January to March for 30,000 office workers. On the other hand, Uber and Lyft pushed back their return plans. While Lyft workers will not need to return to the office until 2023, Uber announced an indefinite delay.

With the initiatives that these major tech giants are taking, we expect the companies to be less impacted when compared to the second wave.

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