Microsoft is singing in chorus with technology companies to postpone the reopening of its offices until the end of 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic may gradually subside. The Verge confirmed a “Business Insider” report stating that Microsoft has postponed its full opening from July to at least September 7. A spokesperson said the move was in response to “continuing consultations with health and data experts.”
In an email to employees, Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene said that the delay provided “additional flexibility” for employees in making summer plans. He added that if the situation in the local office makes their return home too risky, the local office manager can raise further delays.
The technology pioneer is currently in the “soft opening” stage, and a small number of employees can return to work on site. As of March, approximately 20% of Microsoft employees worldwide have returned to offices, including offices in Redmond and Seattle.
Nevertheless, for Microsoft, moving to remote workplaces seems to be a permanent change to the company’s culture. Going forward, Microsoft plans to standardize the option of working from home for up to 50% of the time per week for most employees. You can also choose to discuss more significant remote work transfers with your manager.
Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan explained in a report last October: “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live and work in new ways.”
The delay confirms the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Although the rapid increase in vaccinations can make people safer to work in the office, it is not clear whether enough people will be protected by July-the increase in faster-spreading virus variants complicates matters.
For now, Microsoft has stated that it may allow most people to work at home for up to half a week. Compared with the past, there is less pressure to reopen.