WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Software giant Microsoft will let employees work from home permanently if they choose to, US media reported on Friday, becoming the latest employer to expand work-from-home provisions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Verge said most Microsoft employees are still at home as the health crisis drags on, and the company doesn’t expect to reopen its US offices until January of next year at the earliest.
But when it does, workers can choose to work from their residences permanently, although in that case they will have to give up their office space.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live and work in new ways,” Microsoft’s Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan said in a note to employees obtained by the tech news outlet.
“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture.”
In a statement to AFP, a Microsoft spokesperson didn’t address whether work-from-home would be made permanent but said, “Our goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention — guided by employee input, data and our commitment to support individual workstyles and business needs while living our culture.”
The Verge report said employees will need approval from their managers to work remotely on a permanent basis, but can spend less than 50 per cent of their week outside the office without approval.
Some employees won’t be eligible for remote-work arrangements, such as those who work in Microsoft’s labs or train other employees.
In its memo, the company co-founded by Bill Gates said it is possible for its workers to relocate across the United States or perhaps overseas, The Verge reported.
Those that relocate may see their salaries change depending on where they go, and while the company will cover expenses for employees’ home offices, it won’t cover relocation expenses.
As of the end of June, Microsoft employed 163,000 people, 96,000 of them in the US, according to a securities filing.
Some major tech firms have already allowed permanent work-from-home arrangements including Facebook, whose boss Mark Zuckerberg said half of the social network’s staff could be permanently working remotely within five to 10 years.