Microsoft is set to reopen its headquarters in Washington DC after a long work-at-home period in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Its headquarters in Redmond and Seattle in Washington DC will open its doors on 29th of march for the very first time since March last year.
Kurt DelBene,the head of strategy at Microsoft, said that The company sites in 21 countries have been able to accommodate additional workers in their facilities thus representing about 20% of their global employee population and that the company will start making this shift at the Redmond, Washington headquarters and its nearby campuses.
The company is now following this gradual approach in harmony with local authority restrictions and for Kurt Delbene, the company is better positioned to safely accommodate more workers while sticking to Washington state capacity limits. She said that as they watch the progress against the virus in the region and as they continue to evaluate their guidance, employees working at Redmond sites and nearby campuses have the choice to return to those facilities or to continue working remotely, and also have the flexibility to do a mixture of both.
The company had in march 2020 announced a six-stage open strategy which includes, closed, work from home, then working from home strongly encouraged, soft opening at stage four, open with restrictions and lastly open. As of now, the company is carrying out stage four which is soft opening to allow more employees return to work. At the fifth stage, the offices will open but with restrictions and at the final stages they will operate without restrictions.
The tech company is considering to try the hybrid workplace model where workers come to the office occasionally and complete the rest of the task at home depending on their convenience. As for now the company is set to release its 2021 Version of its Work Trend Index a report that shows data and research on how employees and businesses are responding to the pandemic.
Results from a survey done by the company shows that 73% of its workers would prefer to continue with flexible remote work and they now consider working from home part time as standard for employees. At the moment Microsoft is currently working to establish technologies that will help bridge the gap between remote work and traditional offices.
DelBene has revealed that the company has pulled together a number of Microsoft researchers and engineers and real estate and facilities experts to prototype hybrid meeting spaces at Redmond Washington and U.K campuses. She said that the group is investigating different meeting configurations and technologies like multiple screens, cameras and mixed reality scenarios to understand the most effective, inclusive of set-up for hybrid work.
Although the plan is still in new stages, the company is considering using existing technologies to set up meetings and remote work and even improve on existing Microsoft Teams to bridge the gap. The process may involve turning off all the screens at home into Teams-Capable device to enables home workers to see employees on the big screen. This is a concept Microsoft plans to adapt as revealed during the ignite event that happened recently.
DelBene said that though they don’t know how far off new normal is, they are adapting to a new way of working with an expanded understanding of flexibility, that they know there are thousands of ways of working. That in the last year employees have shown what is possible-and they believe that flexibility is essential to maintaining work life balance.
Some of the tech companies that have embraced the hybrid model include, Facebook, Salesforce, Google and Amazon. The model is deemed attractive to both the company and employees. For the employee its flexible whereas for corporations it cuts on real estate costs.