Microsoft gives staff the option to work from home permanently

The announcement contradicts CEO Satya Nadella's warnings about the risks of remote working

Microsoft has become the latest company to give its employees the option to work from home on a permanent basis. 

The decision, announced in a blog post, sees Microsoft following in the footsteps of Twitter, which recently confirmed in a company-wide email that employees can work from home "forever". Google and Facebook have also extended their remote working policies as part of the effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 and to protect the health of employees and their families. 

Microsoft confirmed that its employees are being given the option to work from home indefinitely as long as they obtain managerial approval. Part-time remote working will be available without formal approval, and the guidance is applicable to employees based in the UK.

However, the option might not be available for all roles. Microsoft said that some staff will still be required to work from the office, including employees who require access to office-based hardware.

"Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognise there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements and business needs we have at Microsoft," the company said. 

"To address this, we have provided guidance to employees to make informed decisions around scenarios that could include changes to their work site, work location, and/or work hours once offices are open without any COVID-19 restrictions."

The announcement is in sharp contrast to a recent statement made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Last week, he warned that businesses should consider the effects the switch to remote working has on collaboration, learning and our wellbeing. According to the CEO, “learning, reskilling, onboarding is going to become a huge issue”.

“We need to be able to incorporate the learning content into a workflow that is natural,” he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

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Another problem Nedella raised is video call fatigue, which he said can start within 30 minutes of the first call of the day. What's more, with all meetings taking place via video conferencing software, meaning you simply click from one to the other, he warned that people are not switching off between. He also suggested that commutes could serve as meaningful downtime.

However, given the company’s most recent announcement, many of Microsoft’s employees will now be exempt from the daily commute to the office.

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