Microsoft indefinitely delays employees' return to its offices
Microsoft had a lot of news to share about remote work today, including a bunch of upcoming updates for Teams centered around hybrid meetings. But perhaps most pertinent to the company's employees was an announcement that it's delaying their return to the office yet again. Microsoft is putting the plans on hold indefinitely due to the COVID-19 delta variant.
Most recently, the aim was to fully reopen the headquarters in Redmond, Washington and several other US offices no earlier than October 4th. "Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favor of opening US work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance." Jared Spataro, Microsoft's corporate vice president for modern work, wrote in a blog post.
Once Microsoft has a date in mind for reopening, it will tell workers about a 30-day transition period so they can make preparations. That window, according to Spataro, will let Microsoft "continue to be agile and flexible as we look to the data and make choices to protect employee health, safety and well-being." As The New York Times notes, Microsoft will require employees, vendors and guests to have proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter its offices.
"It’s a stark reminder that this is the new normal," Spataro wrote. "Our ability to come together will ebb and flow."
With that in mind, it seems Microsoft employees will be taking advantage of the hybrid meeting features that are coming to Teams. They include support for intelligent cameras; more immersive PowerPoint presentations with live video in slides; a way to tell co-workers if you plan to attend meetings in person or remotely when you RSVP; and Apple CarPlay support for audio-only meetings.
Other major tech companies have delayed returns to the office. Amazon previously planned to bring corporate employees back to its offices this week. In August, it pushed back those plans once again, this time until January.
Microsoft abandons plan to reopen US offices amid Covid worries
Microsoft again holds off reopening Redmond campus
Microsoft earmarked October 4 as the date when it would fully reopen its Redmond headquarters and its other offices in the United States, but now those plans are on hold.
"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 favor of opening US worksites as soon as we're able to do so safely based on public health guidance," Microsoft modern work CVP Jared Spataro said.
He said that when the company redecides a new opening date, it will give staff a 30-day heads up so that both staff and company can prepare for their return.
The tech giant has pushed back its office reopening date a handful of times now. Last October, Microsoft officials told employees they were pushing back the reopening date for the company's U.S.-based offices from January 2021 to July 2021. In late March, Microsoft provided another update on its COVID-19 coronavirus-inspired re-opening plans, notifying employees that they'd be moving to Stage 4 (soft reopen) of the Puget Sound area Microsoft offices on March 29. Then, in April it changed the full reopen July date to September 7, at the earliest.
The news comes off the back of Microsoft announcing additional features for Teams, including Cameo, a feature that enables users to integrate the Teams camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation to allow the presenter to customer how and where they want to appear on the screen with their slides.
Microsoft said it was also introducing AI-enabled cameras to be used with its Teams Rooms services, so that in-room cameras can detect who is speaking in the room based on audio, facial movements, and gestures, allow in-room participants to be placed in their own video pane, and identify and display the profile name of enrolled users within their video pane.
Outlook RSVP is another feature being added to let people notify whether they will attend a meeting in-person or remotely.
Additionally, Microsoft announced the public preview of Microsoft Viva Connections mobile app. Available later this month, the app, Microsoft claims, is a Microsoft 365 powered "single employee app" for company communications, news, and announcements, submitting expense reports, and requesting time off work.
Related Topics:Tech and Work Enterprise Software Windows Windows 10 Collaboration Cloud Sours: https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-again-holds-off-reopening-redmond-campus/
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Microsoft is shelving its plans to fully reopen its US offices next month. The software giant had planned to reopen its headquarters on October 4th, but the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19 and the spike in cases has forced the company to delay its back to the office push. Microsoft isn’t providing a new date to employees, though.
“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favor of opening US work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance,” explains Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of modern work.
This latest delay follows a number of postponements this year to fully reopen Microsoft’s offices. A limited reopening started in March, with original plans to open fully by July. This got pushed back to September, then October, and it’s now been delayed indefinitely.
“The evolving Delta variant is compelling many of us to adjust plans for reopening worksites,” says Spataro. “It’s a stark reminder that this is the new normal. Our ability to come together will ebb and flow.”
Microsoft’s delayed reopening comes as the company shares more data on hybrid work, and its efforts to modernize Office and Microsoft Teams for this “new normal.” Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is calling this the “Great Reshuffle,” as businesses rethink cultures, company values, and how employees work daily.
According to data from LinkedIn and Glint, 87 percent of people would prefer to stay remote at least half of the time, suggesting that employers will need to adapt to the idea of hybrid work quickly. The Great Reshuffle terminology also works well to describe Microsoft’s predictions in July that “41 percent of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year.”
Microsoft to take site-by-site approach to U.S. office reopening
Sept 9 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it will no longer target a specific date for reopening all of its U.S. offices and instead will reopen each site based on whether it meets a set of company criteria and local health guidelines.
"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 favor of opening U.S. work sites as soon as we're able to do so safely based on public health guidance," Microsoft said in a blog post.
Microsoft had earlier said it would open its Redmond headquarters as well as other U.S. offices on Oct. 4.
Microsoft on Thursday said each U.S. site will return to work when all local government guidelines are met and when the site has reached "Stage 6" of a set of criteria the company detailed in March. Hitting the sixth stage requires that "COVID-19 is no longer a significant burden on the local community and presents itself more like an endemic virus such as the seasonal flu," Microsoft said in an earlier blog post.
Some big tech firms are delaying a return to office, while others like Facebook Inc (FB.O) are making vaccinations mandatory due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. read more
The software giant said it will also give a 30-day transition period that provides time for employees to prepare before getting back to offices.
Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco Editing by Arun Koyyur and Matthew Lewis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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