Microsoft Reopening Campuses, Offices As Pandemic Eases

Software giant reopening its offices in Washington State, and giving staff 30 days to return to the office starting 28 February

Microsoft this week has revealed that it is reopening its Washington State and California Bay area offices campuses.

Nearly two years after it asked staff (whose roles allowed) to work from home on a temproary basis because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Redmond is fully reopening its Washington states facilities, which includes its headquarters, from 28 February.

Microsoft staff have 30 days to make adjustments to their routines and adopt the working perferences they have agreed with their managers.

Office re-opening

It was back in September last year when Microsoft said it was indefinitely postponing its staff return to US offices on 4 October, in response to the rising number of Delta infections of the Coronavirus in the United States.

That decision impacted more than 103,000 Microsoft staffers in the US. The firm employs 47,000 alone at its Washington State headquarters.

But now public health data has suggested that Microsoft can now announce its re-opening plans, which it revealed in a blog post about its hybrid workplace.

“For nearly two years, our hybrid workplace model has anchored each of our work sites to one of six defined stages, allowing us to quickly adjust our guidance depending on health data, local government guidance, the availability of vaccines and vaccination rates and other considerations,” wrote the software giant.

“Based on this approach and improving local health metrics, our Washington state work sites will move to our sixth and final stage of the hybrid workplace model, effective 28 Feb 2022,” it said. “From this date, employees will have 30 days to make adjustments to their routines and adopt the working preferences they’ve agreed upon with their managers.”

Microsoft said it would be fully reopening its facilities to staff, visitors and guest, and all campus services will return, including its ride-share option.

Microsoft said it was able to take this decision, because as of 8 February, 83.8 percent of eligible King County residents (where most of its Washington state staff live) have completed their vaccine shots, with 91.6 percent recvieing at least one dose.

“These high vaccination rates, along with declining hospitalisations and deaths in the state, are part of what enables us to move to this stage of our hybrid work journey,” said Redmond. “In addition, we ensure that established local testing solutions are in place and that we’re aligned to all government guidance for businesses like ours.”

Hybrid working

Microsoft said it recognised that during the past two years, staff adapted to new ways of working.

It also said it knows “there’s not a singular solution to how people work best, which is why we believe flexibility should be at the forefront of our evolving hybrid workplace.”

Microsoft said it would continue to take a data driven approach to decision making that follows public health guidance. It is also “maintaining a close watch on local health data in every area where Microsoft has a physical presence, and we’ll adjust our course if necessary.”

“Outside of Washington state, our Bay Area sites in California, including our new Silicon Valley Campus, will fully open on 28 Feb, and we anticipate many of our other US locations will follow suit as conditions allow,” it said.

Like many other tech companies, Microsoft is offering its staff flexibility when it comes to working from home, which is a perk that could help retain employees and minimise the impact of the “great resignation.”