Microsoft is delaying the full reopening of its offices — the company’s “Stage 6” phase of its hybrid workplace plan — until September 7th at the earliest. This marks a delay from its originally planned July window.
“Based on our continued consultation with health and data experts, we’ve shifted our earliest date for the full opening of our U.S. worksites to September 7, 2021. We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will adjust dates by country as needed,” a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to The Verge.
Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene explained the decision to delay the full reopening in an email to staff obtained by Business Insider: “We believe this date will afford additional flexibility for employees to make summer plans, and we’ll continue to keep you updated if the date moves out.” Additionally, the email notes that Microsoft will give regional office leaders leeway to further push back that date, depending on health and safety conditions in their local area.
The company has already started to reopen in a limited capacity. Earlier in March, the company noted that roughly 20 percent of its staff worldwide were back in the office, and it started to slowly reopen its Redmond and Seattle, Washington-based headquarters on March 29th.
That said, the shift to a more remote workplace at Microsoft caused by the COVID-19 pandemic looks to be a permanent change to the company’s culture. Going forward, it plans to make the option to work from home for up to 50 percent of the week standard for most positions, with the option to discuss more substantial shifts to remote work with managers.
“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, explained in a note last October. “We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture.”