Microsoft’s new ‘hybrid workplace’ policy will make working from home a permanent part of the mix

Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft has released new “hybrid workplace” guidance that lays out how employees can have a more flexible remote work schedule and even relocate elsewhere in the country as the tech giant continues to adjust to changing needs during the ongoing pandemic.

The Verge first reported on the internal messaging Friday, saying that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50 percent of their working week, and managers will be able to approve permanent remote work.

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Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, said in a note to employees that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone to “think, live, and work in new ways.”

“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture,” Hogan wrote, as reported by The Verge.

A Microsoft spokesperson also confirmed the guidelines to CNBC, saying in a statement that the “goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention.”

Other highlights in The Verge report include:

  • Employees who opt to WFH permanently will give up their assigned office space, but can still use “touchdown space” at Microsoft offices.
  • Employees can move across country for remote work, but compensation and benefits will change and vary depending on the company’s own geopay scale. Those who move will need to cover their own relocation expenses.
  • Microsoft will cover home office expenses for permanent remote workers.
  • Flexible working hours will be available without manager approval.

The company stressed that some roles still require access to Microsoft offices, hardware, data centers and in-person training.

Microsoft was one of the first companies to shift its tech workforce remotely when the coronavirus hit in March. Other tech giants such as Twitter and Zillow have said they’ll allow employees to work from home indefinitely.

In offering his own WFH tips this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said he’s focused on three major considerations of how the nature of work is changing amid the pandemic: how collaboration happens, how learning happens inside companies, and how to ensure employees aren’t burning out.

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