Microsoft Corp says it will allow most of its employees to clock in up to half their weekly working hours from home, providing greater flexibility even after offices start reopening.

The software-maker says while returning to office is optional for most employees for now, Microsoft would not commit to having every employee work remotely.
The software-maker says while returning to office is optional for most employees for now, Microsoft would not commit to having every employee work remotely. (Reuters)

Software giant Microsoft will let employees work from home permanently if they choose to, US media have reported, becoming the latest employer to expand work-from-home provisions prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

US tech news website The Verge said on Friday that most Microsoft employees are still at home as the health crisis drags on and that the company doesn't expect to reopen its US offices until January of next year at the earliest. 

But when it does, workers can choose to work from home permanently with their manager's approval, although they will have to give up their office space.

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"The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live and work in new ways," human resources head Kathleen Hogan said in a note to employees obtained by The Verge.

"We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture."

Not abandoning office work entirely

In a public blog post later in the day, Hogan said the company views employees spending less than 50 percent of their time working from home as "standard" but wasn't abandoning office work entirely.

"We are not committing to having every employee work from anywhere, as we believe there is value in employees being together in the workplace," Hogan wrote.

The Verge reported some employees won't be eligible for remote-work arrangements, such as those who work in Microsoft's labs or train other employees. 

Salaries change 

In its memo, the company co-founded by Bill Gates said it is possible for its workers to relocate across the United States or perhaps overseas, The Verge said.

Those that relocate may see their salaries change depending on where they go, and while the company will cover expenses for employees' home offices, it won't cover relocation expenses.

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As of the end of June, Microsoft employed 163,000 people, 96,000 of them in the US, according to a securities filing.

Covid-19 impact on work function

The Redmond, Washington-based company had about 163,000 full-time employees as of June.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses function, with work-from-home emerging as the new norm.

Earlier in May, Twitter Inc became the first major tech company to allow employees who can work remotely to do so indefinitely.

Facebook Inc had said it would allow its employees to work from home till July next year, while Google had extended the remote working period for employees who do not need to be in the office till June.

Source: AFP