Story at a glance

  • In a blog post, Microsoft executives confirmed workers will still be remote despite a target of returning to work this fall.
  • Surges in COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide are the driving cause behind the decision.
  • Many employees in all industries want to continue working remotely.

Microsoft said that it will indefinitely postpone its return-to-work transition as new COVID-19 infections continue to surge driven by the contagious delta variant.

Confirmed in a company blog post, the software giant reversed its decision to have employees back in the office for in-person work by Oct. 4, which was made in an announcement in August. 

This time around, the company did not provide a concrete date for employees to return to the office. 

“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites in favor of opening U.S. work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance,” Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, wrote. “Our ability to come together will ebb and flow.”

The blog post itself focused on a discussion between Spataro, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Rolansky on the continued presence of hybrid-remote workplaces across all industries as the pandemic rages on.

Microsoft was one of the companies to begin mandating vaccinations for all employees returning to in-person work, representing a burgeoning movement among private sector companies to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and work to reopen workplaces.

A spokesperson told The Hill that the company will begin reopening offices when its worksite meets select public health criteria.

"Protecting employee health and safety continues to be our top priority and we’ve decided to adjust our plans as we follow the latest information and guidance from health and data experts, and respond to COVID-19’s highly dynamic nature," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "Rather than forecasting a potential date for the full re-opening of our U.S. worksites, we will fully re-open each U.S. worksite once our Stage 6 health and criteria and local guidelines are met at each location."

Stage 6 represent the final step in the company's hybrid workplace design.

National data suggests that new COVID-19 infections are still rising, despite a lag in reporting over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The renewed surge in infections has hindered the reopening of several key economic sectors, including workplaces and travel industries.

Not everyone is disappointed with the industry decisions to remain remote. Substantial portions of the workforce have expressed a desire to continue to work from home even once the pandemic eventually abates. 

As companies cannot meet their employees’ desires to continue remote work, among other benefits, more people are electing to quit their jobs. This trend, dubbed “The Great Resignation,” is a symptom of the reshuffling made in workers’ lives during the pandemic. Many report wanting to make a career switch to achieve more flexibility at work.

Published on Sep 09, 2021