Microsoft Prepares to Reopen Its Offices and Enter Hybrid-Work Era -- Update
By Kimberly Chin
Microsoft Corp., one of the first American companies to ask
staff to shift to remote work more than a year ago as the
coronavirus pandemic hit, is ready to begin welcoming employees
back to the office.
Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters and nearby campuses
will start shifting to a hybrid-work approach on March 29, with
some employees returning to office desks while others work from
home, the company said Monday.
"Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing
people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable,
while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and
related variants remain concerning," Microsoft said in a blog
The software company's office locations spanning 21 countries
will be ready to accommodate additional workers in compliance with
guidance from local authorities, the company said. The initial
guidance affects roughly 20% of Microsoft's more than 160,000
employees, the company said.
Microsoft said it doesn't expect to recall all employees soon.
Once the pandemic is no longer a significant threat to communities,
Microsoft said, the company expects a partial work-from-home
schedule to be routine for many of its jobs. The company previously
has said it would allow some workers to work remotely on a
permanent basis with their manager's approval.
With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout progressing, the shift to
hybrid work is shaping up to be a critical challenge for companies
this year, not unlike last year's rush to figure out how to keep
business going with employees scattered at home. Like last year,
actions aren't uniform.
Many companies are still holding off on bringing work back to
the office. Google parent Alphabet Inc. is keeping most of its
staff working remotely until at least September. Social-media
company Twitter Inc. said most of its staff would be able to keep
working remotely after the pandemic has ended. Facebook Inc. has
moved toward having a substantially larger portion of employees
The number of Americans working from home has surged during the
pandemic, and many corporate leaders expect that to continue.
According to a global survey by Microsoft that was released on
Monday, 73% of workers said they want flexible work-from-home
policies to stay, and 65% of employees reported wanting more
in-person time with their teams after the pandemic. About 66% of
businesses were considering redesigning offices to accommodate
hybrid work environments.
Microsoft is betting that the hybrid-work era will spawn a new
wave of requirements to accommodate employees. The company posted a
year of strong growth amid the pandemic, as companies adapted to
navigate the remote-work environment and embraced the kind of
cloud-computing services and workplace-collaboration tools the
Its videogaming business has enjoyed significant success among
people stuck at home, and its Teams workplace-collaboration
software also experienced large growth in user numbers.
Half of the company's workforce or more could take advantage of
flexible work arrangements, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella
said at The Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit.
Not every company is willing to allow its employees to work
remotely for the long haul. Netflix Inc. founder and co-Chief
Executive Reed Hastings has said he hasn't seen any benefits from
the work-from-home trend and predicted workweeks would shift to
having staffers in offices four days a week, with one remote-work
day. Executives at other companies have cited challenges with
training, integrating new employees and finishing projects with
workers plugging away from their homes.
Write to Kimberly Chin at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 22, 2021 15:58 ET (19:58 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.