Microsoft has joined other big name tech firms in response to the rising number of Delta infections of the Coronavirus in the United States.

Redmond had intended for its staff to return to the office on 4 October, but now said it will indefinitely postpone the return to its offices in the United States.

In July Microsoft said hybrid working is here to stay, as it warns that 40 percent of people may quit their jobs this year for better work, life balance.

Office return

Microsoft revealed its decision about delaying the office return in a wide ranging blog post by Jared Spataro, Redmond’s corporate VP for modern work.

The blog discussed Microsoft Teams and hybrid working patterns, but also touched upon the return to the office for Microsoft staff.

“This morning Satya Nadella and Ryan Roslansky, the CEO of LinkedIn, sat down to talk about the key secular trends they’re seeing as people and organisations everywhere adjust to hybrid work,” wrote Spataro.

“As Satya and Ryan mentioned, the evolving Delta variant is compelling many of us to adjust plans for reopening worksites,” wrote Spataro. “It’s a stark reminder that this is the new normal. Our ability to come together will ebb and flow.”

“In fact, we had planned for October 4 to be the first possible date to fully reopen Microsoft’s own Redmond headquarters, and many other work sites in the US,” wrote Spataro.

“But as we shared with our employees today, we’ve shifted those plans. Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favour of opening US work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance.”

“From there, we’ll communicate a 30-day transition period that provides time for employees to prepare while allowing us to continue to be agile and flexible as we look to the data and make choices to protect employee health, safety and well-being,” wrote Spataro.

Other delays

Microsoft’s decision to delay the office return will impact more than 103,000 Microsoft employees in the US.

Google earlier this month confirmed that its staff will only return to the office on Monday 10th January next year.

The ongoing issues caused by infections has prompted many firms to reconsider their policies for wearing masks in the office, and whether to order all returning staff to be vaccinated.

On 5 August Amazon confirmed office staff can only return by 3 January 2022 because of the surge in Covid-19 cases in the US from the Delta variant.

Then on 12 August, Facebook scrapped its plans to reopen its offices by October, and announced that “recent health data showing rising Covid cases based on the delta variant, our teams in the US will not be required to go back to the office until January 2022.”

On 19 August Apple told its staff that they would not be returning to the office until January 2022 at the earliest.

Ride hailing firm Lyft has set a return date for corporate workers on 2 February 2022.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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