Microsoft reveals internal guidance for moving to increased remote working

Microsoft has announced it will be enabling more of its employees to work from home, permanently. It has unveiled its hybrid workplace guidance internally to allow for better flexibility.

Published in a blog from Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Microsoft, Hogan announces that it will now allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50 percent of their working week, or for managers to approve permanent remote work. Employees who opt for the permanent remote work option will give up their assigned office space, but still have options to use touchdown space available at Microsoft’s offices.

Microsoft’s guidance includes:

  • Work site (the physical space where you work, e.g. office, center, home, mobile): Microsoft recognises that some employees are required to be onsite and some roles and businesses are better suited for working away from the worksite than others. However, for most roles, we view working from home part of the time (less than 50%) as now standard – assuming manager and team alignment.
  • Work hours (the hours and days when employees work, e.g. workday start and end times, full- or part-time): Work schedule flexibility is now considered standard for most roles. While part-time continues to be subject to manager approval, our guidance is meant to facilitate an open conversation between a manager and employee regarding considerations.
  • Work location (the geographic location where you work, e.g. city and country): Similarly the guidance is there for managers and employees to discuss and address considerations such as role requirements, personal tax, salary, expenses, etc.

Hogan says “Our guidance is to help employees plan ahead for the future. For now, returning to many of our offices around the world is still optional for employees, except for essential onsite roles. While we’ve shared that we will challenge long-held assumptions and seek to be on the forefront of what is possible leveraging technology, we have also communicated that we are not committing to having every employee work from anywhere, as we believe there is value in employees being together in the workplace.”

While most employees will be able to easily take advantage of the less than 50 percent working from home option, some roles will be difficult, or even impossible, to permanently transition to remote. Roles which will be required to be office-based include those who require access to hardware labs, data centres, and in-person training.

Microsoft’s move to more flexible working comes months after the company notified employees that its US offices wouldn’t reopen until January 2021 at the earliest. Microsoft originally allowed its employees to work from home back in March before enforcing a mandatory work from home policy as the pandemic spread across Seattle and further into the US.

Microsoft isn’t alone in allowing employees to permanently work remotely. Facebook, BP and Siemens have all announced the transition.

If your organisation is also planning to introduce new working practices, take a look at our free eBook which gives you a framework from which you can base your communication and engagement strategy. Or get in touch to see if we can help.

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