Microsoft to Soft Open its Headquarters on March 29

Posted on March 22, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft with 23 Comments

One year after issuing a mandatory work-from-home order to its employees, Microsoft will begin welcoming them back to work next week.

“After over a year in which most Microsoft employees have worked remotely, several of our work sites around the globe have reached a stage that meets or exceeds government requirements to accommodate more workers, while many other employees will continue to work remotely,” Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene writes in the announcement post. “Currently, Microsoft work sites in 21 countries have been able to accommodate additional workers in our facilities, representing around 20 percent of our global employee population. On March 29, Microsoft will also start making this shift at our Redmond, Washington, headquarters and nearby campuses.”

Given the hybrid workplace model that Microsoft has been proselytizing since last year, it should come as no surprise that the software giant isn’t simply going to open the doors and welcome all of its employees back at once. Instead, it will provide services on campus for those who choose to return, while supporting those who need to work remotely or feel more comfortable doing so.

“Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning,” DelBene explains. “we’ve been closely monitoring local health data for months and have determined that the campus can safely accommodate more employees on-site while staying aligned to Washington state capacity limits. As we watch for progress against the virus in the region and continue to evaluate our guidance, employees who work at Redmond work sites or nearby campuses have the choice to return to those facilities or to continue working remotely, and also have the flexibility to do a mixture of both.”

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Microsoft to Soft Open its Headquarters on March 29”

  1. LT1 Z51

    It's funny that Microsoft a tech company might have more people on-site than Ford an automotive company (outside of our manufacturing sites). I've been told to basically stay home forever (we might start coming in 1-2 days a week in July but the at work for 5 days of the week is effectively dead).

  2. ebraiter

    The US is pushing to fast. Canada has lower cases and deaths and still many are working from home. I don't mind.

  3. Paul Thurrott

    I'm sorry this isn't obvious to everyone.


    This is NOT the place to spout nonsense untruths about vaccinations or science in general.

  4. anoldamigauser

    In reply to blue77star:

    Actually, the Moderna, Pfizer and J&J vaccines have all received FDA Emergency Approval. In clinical trials, they all had a higher efficacy than the typical annual flu vaccine.

    It would be hard to know the long term effects of vaccines that are just out, but then, the question is, are they going to be worse than the long term effects of COVID-19? Everyone does know, for sure, that you can get COVID-19, even if you have been vaccinated. No vaccine is 100% effective. On the other hand, not being vaccinated is 0% effective, or 100% ineffective, take your pick.

    If you do not want a vaccine, by all means do not get one. But, please, when you do get sick, do not take a hospital bed, or a dose of remdesivir or another treatment that could go to someone who took this shitshow seriously.

  5. kingv84

    In reply to blue77star:

    Probably because some people want this pandemic to be over. I am surely tired of it and whatever allows us to go back to some type of normal, am for it.

  6. philbypond

    Mattbg made the point below that "it must be quite nightmarish for someone trying to get started" and it brought to mind an article I saw earlier today about the report Microsoft just released. I couldn't locate the article, but the Microsoft news release is at Microsoft releases findings and considerations from one year of remote work in Work Trend Index - Stories provides some key points and a link to the report. Two points that raise the issue with new employees and the importance networking are:

    • Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized.
    • Shrinking networks are endangering innovation.


    • mattbg

      In reply to PhilByPond:

      This one is interesting as well:


      • Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world.


      Basically: If your entire job can be done working from home, why can't it be done from India? And if it can't be done from India, why can't it be done from a part of the country that is cheaper to live in?

  7. ebraiter

    In reply to blue77star:

    Google "fda approval covid vaccine" and take the first legitimate link.

    What does the box on the right say? APPROVED.

  8. b6gd

    Because of the business I work in we are getting our vaccines basically now (last week/this week). We are 100% returning to the office on April 1. Even then we have probably been at 25% the whole time but with the proper precautions, especially us in IT.


    I personally think things are going to speed up rapidly if you look at the falling rates of infections/deaths combined with the walking immune and those that have had at least one shot (120million). I read yesterday we are vaccinating 2.25 million a day. Come May 1 you will see a lot of people back at work or basically refusing to wear masks and such. People have had enough.

    • samp


      Well this escalated quick

    • anoldamigauser

      In reply to b6gd:

      I am wary of saying the end is near, with new surges and lockdowns in Europe, Brazil being a hot mess, and the overly optimistic openings in some States here. Spring break in Florida is not going to end well when the students return to campus or home. Add to that that it has been found that some of the new variants will infect the "walking immune", so they will need to be vaccinated as well. This is going to be with us for a long time, and we will probably end up having annual COVID vaccinations along with the flu shots.

      On September 12, 2001, no one would have predicted that 20 years later we would still be fighting in Afghanistan. This pandemic is probably going to be the same sort of life altering occurrence. Hopefully, we will learn for the next one. Ah well, live in hope, die in despair.

      • b6gd

        In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

        Please provide links to new variants that are infecting either the walking immune or those vaccinated. Fauci could not last week in front of congress. He could only muster "concern" for the possibility.


        Stubbing your toe and bleeding out at home alone is quickly becoming just as much of a possibility as getting covid and dying from it.

        • anoldamigauser

          In reply to b6gd:

          Here are a few. The variants to worry about seem to be the South African and Brazilian ones. I know the Brazilian variant is in the US already, not sure about the South African variant. FWIW, I also have a friend who had COVID early on and wanted to donate antibodies. When tested, they told her that her count was too low and that she might no longer have immunity. So it would seem that one can outwalk one's immunity.

          https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/03/world/americas/brazil-covid-variant.html

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/02/05/virus-variant-reinfection-south-africa/

          https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-variant-reinfection/

          https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-variants-reinfection-vaccination-efforts

          Compassion does not seem to be your strong suite, but be careful around furniture in the dark. I would not want you stubbing your toe and bleeding out.


  9. thalter

    I hope more companies follow the Ford model: Offices used for meetings and collaboration only. The rest of the time I can focus at home where I can control the distractions and sound level, and set the temperature and lighting to whatever I want.

    • mattbg

      In reply to thalter:

      I think there's going to be a large "wait and see" component to this. I'd guess at this point, managers have a sense of who is more productive at home and who is less productive. I doubt those conversations have been had yet due to COVID, but they will come eventually. Further, people may start to find that they get ahead in their careers slower compared to people who are in the office just because of face time and relationships.


      Getting ahead matters more to some than others, but I'd guess that a lot of the upwardly-mobile group know that their currency is in face-to-face and want to get back to that. A lot of CEOs and other C-suites never stopped coming to the office during COVID, and there's a reason for that.


      On top of that, you have managers who never liked work-from-home and will never like it because they know they'd be goofing off if they were at home and assume everyone else is the same.


      Further, it must be quite nightmarish for someone trying to get started in their careers right now, with none of that casual face-to-face and mentoring being available.


      It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

    • wright_is

      In reply to thalter:

      I'm the other way round. After 15 years as a consultant, working at client offices and a further 10 years working from home, I am now very happy to be working in a permanent office. Having to work in home office, I quickly feel how much I am missing: the camaraderie, being in the loop, asking quick questions of my colleagues, not having to write a note or wait until they have finished telephoning.

      As a consultant, after 15 years out of the office, I was suddenly put in the situation, where I should use my network to find another project, but, unlike most of my colleagues, who worked mainly out of the company offices, I had no network to ask about new projects.

      There are a lot of situations, where working in the office has its advantages.

  10. ivarh

    It will be good getting back to the office at least for a few days a week. But I would say politicians in the US and Europe have been selling the skin before they have shot the bear. View from down under it seems like the politicians up there don't have the stayer capability to do the job fully. By locking down hard and waiting until the wild infections are down to 0 for a couple of weeks covid have been kept in check here in Oz and NZ.


    If you are going to try to control the spread you have to have the "b*lls" to stay the full race. People can take limits on their personal freedom as long as it has an effect. Opening up just cause the numbers are on the way down is just begging for them to come right back up again with the result that people get pissed over the limitations they had to suffer without a result...

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