Microsoft is allowing its employees to work permanently from home, and while the vast majority of its employees are still working from home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the software developer has unveiled an in-house opinion on a “hybrid workplace” that outlines the company’s future flexible work schedule. Once the U.S. office finally reopens, it will allow for more flexibility.
Microsoft will now allow employees less than 50 percent of their weekly work time to work from home, or have manager-level supervisors approve permanent remote work. Employees who choose to work permanently remotely will give up their assigned office space, but will still have the option to use the mobile space in Microsoft’s offices.
“The COVID-19 pandemic challenges us all to think, live and work in new ways.” Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief personnel officer, said in a note to employees. “We will provide as much flexibility as possible to support the way individual employees work while balancing business needs and ensuring our cultural life.”
While most employees will be able to easily take advantage of less than 50 percent of the option to work from home, some roles will be difficult or even impossible to transition permanently to remote work.
Microsoft highlighted a number of roles that still need to be entered into the corporate office, including those that require access to hardware labs, data centers, and face-to-face training positions. Upon approval, employees will also be allowed to move within the country and even seek international relocation if remote work is feasible for their specific role.
While Microsoft employees will be allowed to move across the border to work remotely, compensation and benefits will vary according to the company’s own geo-wage standards. Microsoft will bear the cost of a home office for long-term distance workers, but anyone who decides to move out of the microsoft office will have to pay for their own relocation. Flexible working hours will also not require manager approval, and employees can apply for part-time work hours through managers.
Microsoft took a more flexible approach to working only a few months after notifying employees that its U.S. offices would not reopen until January 2021 at the earliest. Microsoft originally allowed employees to work from home as early as March, but only implemented a mandatory home-based work policy as the outbreak spread across Seattle and spread further across the United States.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that allows employees to work permanently remotely. Facebook is shifting tens of thousands of jobs to remote work, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealing that as many as half of its employees could do so within five to 10 years.