Microsoft makes work from home a permanent option

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Microsoft, the US-based tech firm, has assured employees that they will have the option to work from home permanently with manager approval.

The decision follows a dramatic shift away from office work triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Microsoft said certain positions, such as those requiring access to hardware, would continue to require an in-person presence. Employees will require their managers’ permission to work remotely on a permanent basis, but can spend less than 50 percent of their week outside the office without approval.

The company co-founded by Bill Gates said in its memo that it is possible for its employees to move across the US or even overseas, reports suggest. Many that relocate will see their salaries change depending on where they go and while the company may pay expenses for the home offices of staff, it will not pay relocation expenses.

“Our goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention guided by employee input, data and our commitment to support individual work styles and business needs while living our culture,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

Not very productive anymore

The switch to remote work was initially praised by many employers as being surprisingly productive. But some of the disadvantages have arisen as the months have passed. Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s own chief executive said at a conference this month that the lack of division between private life and work life meant “it sometimes feels like you’re sleeping at work.”

Experts say that many firms are eyeing policies that combine two days a week at home with three days of office time, which will remain important for meetings, building company culture and loyalty and basic mental wellbeing. Most experts believe that the number of employees who regularly went to office before the pandemic will definitely not continue.

A PWC survey found that about 55 percent of employers said they expected employees to work from home at least one day a week after the pandemic while more than 80% of the workers said they supported the concept.

Less office space

Several businesses are even rethinking how much office space they need as they expect a long-term rise in remote employees.

Analysts claim that such a move may have widespread consequences by reducing demand for office and residential properties in costly city centers. The office space rents in key cities of the world have already dropped drastically.

Some major tech companies and rivals of Microsoft have already permitted permanent home-work arrangements, including Facebook, whose chief, Mark Zuckerberg, said half of the employees of the social network could work remotely permanently within the next five to 10 years.