After closely monitoring local health data and government requirements to accommodate more workers, Microsoft announced today its plans to partially re-open its Redmond headquarters and nearby campuses next week on March 29. It’s been a year since Microsoft announced a mandatory work-from-home policy for its various offices due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, but the company is now ready to experiment with a hybrid workplace model that will give more flexibility to the over 160,000 people who work at Microsoft.
"Taking the example of our Redmond campus, we’ve been closely monitoring local health data for months and have determined that the campus can safely accommodate more employees on-site while staying aligned to Washington state capacity limits. As we watch for progress against the virus in the region and continue to evaluate our guidance, employees who work at Redmond work sites or nearby campuses have the choice to return to those facilities or to continue working remotely, and also have the flexibility to do a mixture of both,” explained Kurt DelBene - Executive Vice President
Last year, the software giant created a Hybrid Workplace Dial detailing six stages of the COVID-19 hybrid workplace. For the Redmond campus, the March 29 change will represent a shift from Stage 3 to Stage 4. "Currently, Microsoft work sites in 21 countries have been able to accommodate additional workers in our facilities – representing around 20% of our global employee population,” DelBene said today.
A Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley that Microsoft's earliest date for a "full opening” (Stage 6) of its Redmond headquarters is July 6, though the spokesperson said that "we'll continue to monitor the situation.” The company also won’t be holding any in-person events until July, and that will apply to Microsoft’s upcoming Build 2021 developer conference expected in late May.
The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has profoundly changed how most companies operate, and remote work is likely here to stay. Today, Microsoft's also published its Work 2021 Trend Index which reflects the aspirations of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries. According to the new study, over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue in the near future.