Oct 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

Breaking down Microsoft's telework move

Picture of Microsoft sign in front of its headquarter offices in Redmond, Wash.

Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Photo: Wang Ying/Xinhua via Getty

Microsoft is the latest big company to embrace the work-from-home experiment, announcing it will allow all employees to telework up to 50% of the time and some employees to work remotely forever.

Why it matters: Microsoft's approach will be a test of whether the hybrid workplace model can succeed at a massive scale.

The big picture: Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have now all bought into the remote future, saying some or all workers can stay home permanently.

  • And earlier on Tuesday, Dropbox, a tech company with well over 2,000 employees, announced that it's going "virtual first." "Remote work (outside an office) will be the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work," the company said.
  • "It's just further confirmation that there's no putting this genie back in the bottle," says Darren Murph, head of remote work at GitLab, the world's largest all-remote company. "These are massive companies with massive quarterly reports on the line, completely rearchitecting their businesses."

Two things to watch:

  1. Choosing the remote option could slash pay. Facebook and Microsoft have both said their teleworkers can move out of the expensive tech hotspots of Silicon Valley and Seattle, but they've added that employee salaries and benefits will be adjusted according to where they live.
  2. The future of tech playgrounds is up in the air. Microsoft will ask permanently remote employees to give up their desks. If more and more techies choose the work-from-home option, tech giants could begin to downsize their huge campuses.
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