Apple corporate employees returned to offices in April this year as the number of the COVID-19 cases continue to recede in the United States. Almost after two years, the Cupertino tech giant is gradually going to bid adieu to remote work in the next few months.
However, the COVID-19 breakout in China has compelled one Apple engineers team in the United States to carry on the extensive use of remote work to manage production in China.
Wall Streat Journal reports that the Cupertino tech giant has passed on more authority to engineers in China to keep products flowing, and its engineers in the United States are using live streaming and the iPad’s augmented reality (AR) feature to oversee production in China.
Apple’s China-based engineers have taken on greater responsibilities to keep the cycle going, the people said. The transfer of power underscores the growing technical expertise of China’s workforce, honed over decades as Apple and other foreign companies have trained generations of engineers and technicians.
The iPhone maker has also adopted some technology, including live-streaming, that helps staff based at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., remotely follow what’s happening on China’s factory floors, the people said. Apple has used iPads to communicate and augmented-reality tools to help technical experts in Cupertino check factory issues, one of the people said.
Apple saves over $35 million in annual travel expenses by managing Chinese teams remotely
At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in 2020, U.S.-based Apple engineers began managing production in China remotely because travel bans and lockdowns shut them out of the country.
The change drastically cut down the tech giant’s annual travel expense by millions of dollars. The report states:
Apple used to book 50 business-class seats daily between San Francisco and Shanghai’s Pudong airport, according to posters from United Airlines Holdings Inc. that circulated on Twitter in 2019 and were confirmed by the carrier at the time. The route accounted for $35 million of United’s annual revenue.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in China has forced U.S. engineers to continue with the remote work model to oversee operations in China. However, as “key decisions and core tasks such as product design still remain centered in Cupertino”, a small number of engineers will still be traveling to China.