Some Microsoft employees slept in data centers during the height of the pandemic

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,288   +132
Staff member
Editor's take: CNBC reached out to Microsoft for more information about where specifically the employees slept or how many chose to do so, but came away empty-handed. That's unfortunately, as it'd be interesting to know what sort of accommodations and compensation Microsoft provided to these dedicated employees.

The phrase “essential worker” entered the mainstream lexicon last year during the Covid-19 outbreak, but for some Microsoft employees, it took on a much deeper meaning.

“I heard amazing stories about people actually sleeping in data centers,” said Kristen Roby Dimlow, corporate vice president for total rewards, performance and human resources business insights at Microsoft.

“In certain countries there was huge lockdown, and so we would have our own employees choose to sleep in the data center because they were worried they’d get stuck at a roadblock, trying to go home,” the executive added.

Microsoft was among the first major tech players to embrace the work from home movement during the early days of the pandemic. Redmond even went so far as to permanently close all of its retail stores last summer, but recently started walking back that move.

Microsoft back in March outlined a hybrid work strategy designed to strike a balance between safety and productivity, allowing those who want to continue to work from home to do so for a while longer. Those that wish to return to on-site work will also be allowed to do so, as long as local government regulations allow for it.

Image credit HJBC, SeventyFour

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Dimitriid

Posts: 721   +1,299
Hey next time you hear a sales pitch for Azure (Or AWS for that matter) and they loudly and repeatedly point out their 99.99% uptime guaranteed well, now you know how the sausage is made, not pleasant isn't it?
 

stewi0001

Posts: 2,631   +2,267
Sometimes I wonder how much would hit the fan if one of these server centers ever went down.
 

EEatGDL

Posts: 764   +489
Devil's advocate here: I worked at Intel and something like that wasn't a crazy idea nor totally unusual on critical seasons. There were truly no repercussions if you didn't volunteer (usually parents), and us the bachelors with no one depending on us could be easily persuaded with free days afterwards without using vacation days and meals at any restaurant we desired within a [meal] budget.
There was no retaliation from management nor an impact on annual performance if you didn't volunteer, regardless of the personal situation (age and marital status). Then there are some workaholics without hobbies or anything to do at home or people brainwashed to "be a team player and going above and beyond" all the time, instead of sporadic ocassions.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 248   +230
I can't fault MS here really. If employees choose to stay on their own accord, and not something mandatory, there is no reason to provide any compensation is there? It is like I choose to work late to complete some work, but that does not mean that my company need to pay me for my own preference. I do know of people who would rather stay in office than to go home for whatever reasons. Also for some, it may be better to stay in office with more space, than to go back to a small rented room and get stuck in there during a lockdown.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,148   +3,049
“In certain countries there was huge lockdown, and so we would have our own employees choose to sleep in the data center because they were worried they’d get stuck at a roadblock, trying to go home”

So apparently they wouldn't be able to get home, they would but if they got cought at a roadblock they would be fined or something.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,129   +167
I don't understand what's the fuss about. surely this is a first world problem, because in other parts of the world you'll find many workers willing to live in their office (as long as it is habitable) just to save transportation and rent cost.

working and staying inside a microsoft datacenter would be a dream for those who're in school debt and living off inside their car and probably showering at the nearest gas station.
 

Old Molases

Posts: 42   +3
I don't understand what's the fuss about. surely this is a first world problem, because in other parts of the world you'll find many workers willing to live in their office (as long as it is habitable) just to save transportation and rent cost.

working and staying inside a microsoft datacenter would be a dream for those who're in school debt and living off inside their car and probably showering at the nearest gas station.
Agreed. This all sounds great, only if they were not forced into doing this.
 

poohbear

Posts: 633   +549
Are they confessing, apologizing, or bragging? My initial reaction is they're apologizing, but who knows with these hyper competitive tech jobs.
 

Hexic

Posts: 989   +1,434
TechSpot Elite
Devil's advocate here: I worked at Intel and something like that wasn't a crazy idea nor totally unusual on critical seasons. There were truly no repercussions if you didn't volunteer (usually parents), and us the bachelors with no one depending on us could be easily persuaded with free days afterwards without using vacation days and meals at any restaurant we desired within a [meal] budget.
There was no retaliation from management nor an impact on annual performance if you didn't volunteer, regardless of the personal situation (age and marital status). Then there are some workaholics without hobbies or anything to do at home or people brainwashed to "be a team player and going above and beyond" all the time, instead of sporadic ocassions.

Agreed - mountains out of molehills it's looking like on the 'forced' side. Data centers must maintain high availability, and employees know this - so there would naturally be those who would choose to stay (I was one of those guys years ago) to ensure everything runs smoothly. And the brownie points with mgmt doesn't hurt either.
 

TheBigFatClown

Posts: 933   +365
I can't fault MS here really. If employees choose to stay on their own accord, and not something mandatory, there is no reason to provide any compensation is there? It is like I choose to work late to complete some work, but that does not mean that my company need to pay me for my own preference. I do know of people who would rather stay in office than to go home for whatever reasons. Also for some, it may be better to stay in office with more space, than to go back to a small rented room and get stuck in there during a lockdown.

Think about Google employees living in their van during hot and cold seasons...sleeping in a heated data center during the winter time would save you a ton in gas money.

Put me in there. If I have a PC and Internet I can live in that place. They would end up having to kick me out. It'd be like, "Bro, the pandemic is over now...you can go home". "No, must keep data center alive...for the people. Yes, for the people."