Microsoft is allowing more of its employees to work from home permanently, the company announced Friday. While the vast majority of Microsoft employees are still working from home during the ongoing pandemic, the software maker has unveiled “hybrid workplace” guidance internally to allow for far greater flexibility once US offices eventually reopen. The Verge has received Microsoft’s internal guidance, and it outlines the company’s flexible working plans for the future.
Microsoft 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.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live, and work in new ways,” says Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, in a note to employees. “We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture.”
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.
Microsoft highlights a few roles that still require access to the company’s offices, including those that require access to hardware labs, data centers, and in-person training. Employees will also be allowed to relocate domestically with approval, or even seek to move internationally if remote working is viable for their particular role.
While Microsoft employees will be allowed to move across country for remote work, compensation and benefits will change and vary depending on the company’s own geopay scale. Microsoft will be covering home office expenses for permanent remote workers, but any that decide to move away from Microsoft’s offices will need to cover their own relocation costs. Flexible working hours will also be available without manager approval, and employees can also request part-time work hours through their managers.
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 is shifting tens of thousand of jobs to remote work, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed to The Verge that up to half of employees could work remotely within five to 10 years.