Apple’s culture of secrecy is making it hard for employees to work remotely during the coronavirus outbreak, report says

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  • Apple’s culture of secrecy has made it difficult for some employees to work from home, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
  • Software developers have said there’s some confusion over the work they’re allowed to perform from home, while some employees have experienced issues accessing internal systems because of security restrictions.
  • The report comes as businesses are increasingly moving to remote work arrangements as the coronavirus continues to spread, particularly in the United States.

As the coronavirus spreads, some Apple employees are finding it difficult to work from home because of restrictions set in place to maintain secrecy around the company’s products, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Software developers have said there’s been confusion over what work they’re allowed to perform from home, while some workers have said they can’t access internal systems from home because of Apple’s security measures, the report says.

Some engineers have come to the office despite Apple instituting remote work arrangements for all offices outside of China for those with jobs that allow for it. That’s because, as the report notes, Apple has a policy that prohibits the removal of unreleased products from campus.

Some restrictions have been altered, but the company is still enforcing such rules for work on software that could reveal clues about unreleased products, according to the Journal. All staff on campus must go through daily health screenings as well, says the report.

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Apple is known for its culture of secrecy and the great lengths it goes to in order to prevent products from leaking ahead of their debuts. The company has hired investigators that have previously worked at government agencies such as the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as The Outline reported back in 2017.

The report also underscores the broader challenges tech companies are facing as they shift to new remote work policies as part of an effort to get the coronavirus outbreak under control.

The ongoing outbreak has uprooted business operations and social norms as the general public is being advised to avoid public gatherings and businesses are moving to remote work policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently advised that events and gatherings in the US with 50 people or more should be postponed over the next eight weeks to prevent COVID-19, the disease cause by the virus, from spreading. New York City and Los Angeles recently banned dining out at restaurants to help curb the spread.

More than 6,500 people around the world have died as a result of the virus as of Sunday, and more than 169,000 people have been infected. The outbreak has also rapidly spread in the United States, with the number of deaths rising to 69 and reported cases increasing to 3,800.

Apple in particular has been at the center of coronavirus-related concerns since the onset because of its heavy presence in China, its 3rd-largest market and home to most of its supply chain. The company recently took another major step in its efforts to combat the virus by closing all of its retail stores outside of China until March 27.


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