As the coronavirus continues to show up in new locations globally, businesses big and small are exploring different ways to deal with the rapidly changing situation.
In the tech sector, the boss of one of the biggest players, Apple, is encouraging company employees at offices around the world to work from home this week.
In a memo to Apple employees seen by Bloomberg, Cook described the current situation regarding the coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s formally known, as an “unprecedented event” and a “challenging moment.”
For the week beginning March 9, the Apple chief told workers at the company’s global offices to perform their duties remotely “if your job allows.”
Apple recently allowed staff at its main offices in Silicon Valley to work from home, as well as staff based in Seattle. But the memo extends the offer to staff at offices in South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the U.K., according to Bloomberg.
In the memo, Cook even reminded his workers on best practices regarding hygiene, telling them to wash their hands frequently and to avoid touching their face. He also told them to stay home if they develop a cough or fever, and only to return once they’ve recovered, adding that it’s important, as well, to follow quarantine procedures after coming back from places with known cases of COVID-19.
Cook’s message to employees also remarked on how the company is trying to “reduce human density” so that on-site workers can perform their duties “safely and with peace of mind.” Deep cleans at Apple offices are also part of efforts to prevent the virus from causing issues at the company, Cook said.
Responding to the outbreak, Apple in early February closed all of its retail stores in China, which has been hit hardest by the virus, though almost all are trading again.
With heavy reliance on a supply chain that’s based largely in East Asia, Apple has in recent weeks been adversely affected by temporary factory closures caused by COVID-19. In early February, as the virus took hold in China, it emerged that the supply of several Apple devices, as well as replacement parts, was coming under increasing pressure, causing shipping delays for some customers.
The tech giant also warned investors last month that it may not be able to meet its second-quarter revenue forecast due to disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Like Apple, Google and Twitter recently told some of its employees to work from home in a bid to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and take pressure off local health services.