It’s crunch time for many businesses as they make the decision to return to the office. However, some, such as Microsoft, are postponing plans indefinitely, due to rising COVID levels and concerns about staff safety.

In a blog post published this week, the company stated that the original return to office date of the 4th of October had been scrapped.

If a company as big and tech-ready as Microsoft is rethinking its plans, should other businesses be doing the same?

No Firm Return to Office Date for Microsoft

The conversation around returning the the office hasn’t always been an easy one, and even now, eighteen months since the pandemic began, many companies are still not in agreement about the best way forward.

In a blog post this week, Microsoft stated:

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 blog

Originally, Microsoft had planned to reopen its Redmond office, as well as other key US locations on the 4th of October. However, in its statement, the firm stated that fluid plans for office work were ‘the new normal’, and that there is no definitive date for return planned. Staff have been informed that Microsoft will instigate a 30-day transition plan once a decision has been made, and that this decision will be ‘data driven’.

Microsoft’s Research Into Hybrid Working

Microsoft has been a keen researcher into the effects of COVID-19 and the pandemic, on the workforce, and just yesterday published its latest finding in its Work Trend Index. The research shows that while employees may have been apart physically, with 160,000 members of staff working from home, a record number of them (90%) feel as though they are included at Microsoft. Additionally, it reports that confidence from employees in managers is at all an time high.

The research also shows an interesting trend when it comes to returning to the office from both managers and employees, with the take away that staff appear to be intending to go into the office more than managers had expected they would. Microsoft is dubbing this the Hybrid Work Paradox.

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