Many scientists and pharmaceutical experts are estimating that life in the US may still be irregularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic well into 2021, and in light of a business landscape reacting to that reality, Microsoft has officially allowed work-from-home to be a permanent option for its employees.
According to internal guidance given to The Verge, Microsoft will be upending its traditional on-premise work environment for a more flexible "hybrid workplace." Microsoft's new flexible working plans include employee allowances to work-from-home freely for under 50 percent of the work-week and while some flexible work hours will be available without manager approval, managers will be given the power to approve of more permanent remote options. Part-time work schedules will also be available for employees barring any managerial disapprovals based on work-type.
In conjunction with the new work-from-home shift, Microsoft will also be adjusting benefit structures and perhaps pay as a result with the company covering home office expenses for permanent remote work but stipulating that those who choose to "move away from Microsoft's offices will need to cover their own relocation costs." The distinction between the two options is subtle but necessary to determine what equipment the company should and will reimburse.
While the work-from-home options appear to be available to all employees, Microsoft notes that not all employees will be able to take advantage of the new allowances, particularly those who require to access to data centers and in-person training as well as those who work in hardware labs such as the company's Surface employees. Aside from these minimal stipulations, employees are otherwise free to relocate both nationally and internationally if their new work-from-home schedule and environment don't interfere with their workload.
Today's news appears to supersede Microsoft's decision made in late July, to reopen its offices presumably for in-office work in January of 2021 at the earliest which will allow for people who choose to go back into the office then to do so, while simultaneously mandating a new permanent work-from-home availability.