Microsoft earlier this month said it would introduce a new flexible work policy that opens the door to a more permanent remote work situation for some employees, even after the company reopens physical offices. Internal documents reviewed by Business Insider spell out exactly how the policy works.
“Leading in a flexible work environment is a skill and a capability and we can all benefit from ongoing investment in learning and development,” one document states.
The documents show that under the new policy, most employees will be free to set their own, more flexible working hours, and that they’re able to work remotely for fewer than 50% of their hours every week, with no approval required. This arrangement is now “considered standard for most roles,” according to the documents, but “may vary depending on role requirements.”
“Employees at Microsoft have the option to work from home less than 50% of their work time (on average), depending on role requirements,” one document states. “Certain types of work may require more consistent or regularly scheduled time onsite or in-person.” Microsoft declined to comment beyond its previous announcement.
While that’s a more flexible policy than most companies of Microsoft’s size have traditionally offered, there are still limits. Working remotely more than 50% of the time, working part-time, or relocating requires managerial approval — and relocation may come with a pay adjustment, which could be either higher or lower depending on the cost of living at the destination.
“Manager determines and communicates the degree of work location flexibility available based on organizational guidelines and the specific requirements of the role,” one document states.
Meanwhile, employees who work remotely less than 50% of the time may be assigned space at their local Microsoft office, and aren’t eligible to expense home office equipment. Employees who receive approval to work remotely more than 50% of the time will not be assigned office space, but will have the option to use what Microsoft calls “touchdown space” and can expense home office equipment with manager approval.
Also of note is that in cases where an employee’s pay would increase, managers have to confirm they have the budget available to approve the relocation. If approved, Microsoft will not cover employee relocation costs and a manager will determine expectations for travel onsite to a Microsoft office, and whether the company will cover any travel expenses.
Microsoft may also allow some employees to relocate to a different country, but says “there are significant implications that need to be considered first,” such as immigration policies and corporate taxes.
Compensation for employees who receive approval to work part-time will be adjusted based on hours worked.
Microsoft in the internal documents called on managers and employees to “be a learn-it-all and build your capability in a hybrid work environment,” suggesting the flexible work policy may evolve over time. The documents also urge managers to keep meetings focused, make sure that remote workers are able to videoconference in, and be clear about which events would benefit from physical participation versus virtual.
The policy is in line with the vision CEO Satya Nadella laid out earlier this year for the post-pandemic workplace. Instead of making the shift to remote work permanent and “replacing one dogma with another,” Nadella in July painted a picture of a post-COVID-19 crisis world in which companies evaluate the effectiveness of remote work for different roles and business functions, and leave physical space for employees.
Microsoft recently extended the option for US employees to work remotely through July 6, 2021, “at the earliest,” a spokesperson said.
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