In context: Where possible, tech companies throughout the world -- but particularly in the US -- have instituted strict work-from-home policies for their employees to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Though some companies have already begun to open up their physical offices, Microsoft is taking a more conservative approach.
According to a report from The Verge, the software giant will not be opening its US offices again for the rest of the year. This information came to light via an internal memo obtained by the outlet, which describes Microsoft's strategy for reopening its physical locations to workers.
The strategy consists of six stages, which are as follows (in order): closed, mandatory working from home, working from home strongly recommended, soft opening, open with restrictions, and open.
We assume Microsoft is currently in stage two, but it's not clear precisely when the company will be advancing to stage three. It's also difficult to determine what a "strong" recommendation to work from home means for employees -- is the recommendation verbal only, or are there incentives for staying out of the office? Only time will tell.
The Verge says that the tentative date for stage six to kick off is January 19, 2021, but Microsoft is prepared to push that day back if needed. The Covid-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and another surge of cases might be enough to deter the company from exposing its workers too soon.