While corporate push employees to get the COVID jab before returning to the office, tech firms are embracing work from home (WFH) 2.0 with the delta variant prompting a surge in COVID-19 cases across the world.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, during CNN Business live event series said work policies are evolving. “There will be some combination of vaccines, testing and exceptions to it. If you think about the policies that one needs to have, it has to accommodate the best practices of all three.”
Microsoft plans to have a hybrid workforce, with some employees working on-site and others working remotely, when offices fully reopen, which is tentatively set for September. “We have already set the policy that up to 50% of the time, without asking anyone, you can work from home,” Nadella said. “And if you need exceptions to that, you can ask your manager and get approval for that as well. So we have already incorporated quite a bit of flexibility.”
The Microsoft CEO also plans to take advantage of the hybrid work policy. “I will definitely want to be working remotely, if I can, for 50% of the time and for the other 50%, I will come. But we want to be more driven by essentially what the needs are,” he pointed out. As such, the company has instituted a number of changes to accommodate this new work policy, including updating conference rooms with smart cameras, digitizing sales through the use of Microsoft Teams and providing personalized training content to its employees.
Nadella acknowledged that burnout and mental health issues have only intensified during the remote work era as home life and work life have collided. “It’s an issue that has posed a major strain on managers when it comes to identifying the warning signs in their employees and figuring out what they can do to help.” Microsoft is tackling this issue by encouraging its employees to make time for breaks.
Analysts highlight that with the potential for a new wave of infections, it would almost be malpractice to make people go back to the office. Even if they pushed for it, employees would likely revolt and stay home. A good example is Apple, wherein its employees signed a petition calling for the company to permit employees to work from home full time for at least one year, with some restrictions and no promises of it being extended. Employees would have the option to work remotely from their home five days a week and could work from locations outside of the area they were hired from.