Microsoft Corp. is pushing back its return-to-office date in the U.S. indefinitely amid rising uncertainty due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While the technology company had originally planned to reopen its Redmond, Wash., headquarters and other U.S. offices on Oct. 4, those plans have “shifted,” according to a company blog post written by Jared Spataro, corporate vice-president for modern work at Microsoft.
Like all employers, its return-to-office plans have changed more than once over the past 18 months. Last November, LinkedIn Corp. and its parent company Microsoft announced white-collar workers would be working remotely until at least July 2021.
“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites in favo[u]r of opening U.S. work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance,” wrote Spataro. “From there, we’ll communicate a 30-day transition period that provides time for employees to prepare while allowing us to continue to be agile and flexible as we look to the data and make choices to protect employee health, safety and well-being.”
The new plan highlights the need for employers to embrace uncertainty and a hybrid work model for the foreseeable future as the havoc wreaked by the Delta variant is “a stark reminder that this is the new normal. Our ability to come together will ebb and flow,” noted Spataro.
“We’ve heard many business leaders come forward with strong opinions on how, when and where people should work in a hybrid world. At Microsoft and LinkedIn, we want to take a learn-it-all approach and lead with data rather than dogma. And we’re incorporating flexibility into our decision-making. Because [we’re] in uncharted territory, we need to be able to shift and adjust as data and research offer new insights to guide our way.”
Recently, several other U.S.-headquartered employers, including Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Google, Starbucks Corp. and Uber Technologies Inc., have all reportedly moved back return-to-office dates until 2022.