Among the few positives of COVID-19 has been the fact that it allowed employees to finally enjoy work from home (WFH) privileges, after most managers and companies had brushed off the option repeatedly over the past two decades or so. As technology and interconnectivity advanced, it had become easier for many jobs in the creative and tech fields to work remotely, allowing companies to cut on office rent costs while employees would enjoy the morale boost that comes with a flexible workspace.
Now, Microsoft has joined the ranks of companies who believe in the viability of this new working mode, and will allow some of its employees to work from home permanently, the company announced late last week.
Kathleen Hogan – Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Microsoft, details the specific circumstances and guidance regarding working from home for the company’s employees:
- “Work site (the physical space where you work, e.g. office, center, home, mobile): We recognize that some employees are required to be onsite and some roles and businesses are better suited for working away from the worksite than others. However, for most roles, we view working from home part of the time (less than 50%) as now standard – assuming manager and team alignment.
- Work hours (the hours and days when employees work, e.g. workday start and end times, full- or part-time): Work schedule flexibility is now considered standard for most roles. While part-time continues to be subject to manager approval, our guidance is meant to facilitate an open conversation between a manager and employee regarding considerations.
- Work location (the geographic location where you work, e.g. city and country): Similarly the guidance is there for managers and employees to discuss and address considerations such as role requirements, personal tax, salary, expenses, etc.”
Essentially, this means that employees will now be able to work from home for less than 50% as per this guidance, while full-time remote work would be permitted should a manager approve. Naturally, some Microsoft jobs don’t lend themselves well to remote working. According to an internal memo seen by The Verge, these jobs include include those that require access to hardware labs, data centers, and in-person training.
Internal sources also told The Verge that the company won’t be reopening its US offices before January 2021.
“Microsoft originally allowed its employees to work from home back in March before enforcing a mandatory work from home policy as the pandemic spread across Seattle,” The Verge said.
With this latest announcement, Microsoft is joining other Big Tech firms like Facebook and Twitter, who have also introduced long-term remote working configurations.
Twitter announced it would be allowing employees to work from home “forever” back in May, making quite the wave in the industry at the time. Meanwhile, Facebook and Google had originally said they would be allowing their staff to work from home until the end of the year, but recently pushed the date to summer 2021.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, more companies will be forced to consider long-term remote working options.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), close to 18% of workers in the world work in occupations and live in countries with the infrastructure that would allow them to effectively perform their work from home.
According to the organization’s estimates, there are also regional variations that closely follow income variations.
“According to our estimates, around 30% of North American and Western European workers are in occupations that allow home-based work as opposed to only 6% of Sub-Saharan African and 8% of South Asian workers. Latin American and Eastern European workers fall somewhere in between at 23% and 18%, respectively.”