Microsoft will let employees work from home permanently

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Even after stay-at-home measures are lifted, Microsoft employees won't be required to go back to the office. Image: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Ben Gilbert
Senior Correspondent, Tech/Gaming, Business Insider
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  • Even when the coronavirus pandemic is over, Microsoft will reportedly allow most of its employees to work from home indefinitely.
  • According to an internal memo obtained by The Verge, employees will be allowed to work from home for less than half of their work week — and could work from home entirely if approved by their manager.
  • Microsoft is the latest major tech company to adopt such measures in perpetuity, following similar choices by Facebook, Twitter, and Square, among others.

Even when stay-at-home measures for the coronavirus pandemic are lifted, Microsoft employees won't be required to come back to the office.

According to an internal Microsoft memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft employees will be allowed to work from home for less than half of their work week. Pending manager approval, some employees will be allowed to work from home full time.

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Given the nature of Microsoft's business as a software and hardware creator, some employees with roles that require a physical presence won't be able to take advantage of the new "hybrid workplace" policy, according to the report. Employees involved in hardware research and development, for instance, or employees involved with in-person training, won't be able to do that work remotely.

For others, whose work can be done entirely remote, there are options to relocate — even internationally — if approved. The Verge reported that "most" of Microsoft's 150,000 employees would be able to take advantage of one of these remote-work offerings.

At least one major Microsoft product was delayed out of 2020 due to remote work slowing down production: next-gen Xbox launch game "Halo Infinite." The game is now expected to launch in 2021, months after the November 10 arrival of the Xbox Series S and Series X.

"The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year," studio head Chris Lee wrote in mid-August. "It is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday."

As the coronavirus pandemic sent millions of Americans indoors in March, and working remotely became the norm for many companies, some tech giants have decided to make working remotely a permanent part of their workplace.

Twitter and Square, for instance, will allow employees to work remotely in perpetuity, and Facebook is predicting that up to 50% of its staff going forward will work remote. They are among dozens of companies that have chosen to permanently alter the way their workplace uses office space — a choice that over half of American workers support.

Microsoft confirmed the report in an email to Business Insider. "We shared guidelines internally this week to provide options for our employees to plan ahead for when we can return to the workplace safely," the statement said. "Our goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention—guided by employee input, data, and our commitment to support individual workstyles and business needs while living our culture."

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