Microsoft delays return to office even as staff look to come back

By Dina Bass

Microsoft is scrapping plans to fully reopen offices by October 4, saying it can no longer give a date for returning to work because the pandemic is too unpredictable.

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,” the Redmond, Washington-based software maker said in a blog post yesterday.

“From there, we’ll communicate a 30-day transition period that provides time for employees to prepare.”

The strategy is similar to one adopted by fellow tech giant Apple, which has delayed its own return-to-office plans multiple times. It has told employees it will give them a one-month warning on a return deadline as it copes with Covid-19’s delta variant, which has led to a resurgence in cases.

In another nod to pandemic realities, Microsoft’s LinkedIn professional-networking site will make it easier for job seekers to find remote and hybrid roles. New options will let users filter out roles in traditional offices or find workplaces that offer a mix, according to the blog post. And LinkedIn plans to make it easier to find out about companies’ vaccination requirements.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led employees to rethink how, where and why they want to work, a shift LinkedIn is calling “the great reshuffle”. Jobs listed on LinkedIn’s site as “remote” continue to increase, with such postings jumping more than 8.5 times since the start of the pandemic to 16pc of the total in August.

Nearly half of Microsoft employees plan to come in to the office three to four times a week, a company survey found. 

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