Some Microsoft staff will be permitted to routinely work from home from now on, the software giant announced over the weekend, showing more enduring change from the the pandemic.

Some Microsoft employees in Australia have been returning to local offices over the last two months but working from home remains the preference for the majority of  local staff.

In new guidance issued on Friday night Microsoft outlined its expectations for remote work, location, and flexibility, triggered by the pandemic. For most Microsoft roles working from home part of the time – less than 50 per cent – is now “standard”.

“Work schedule flexibility” is also now standard, meaning Microsoft employees have more say on when their day starts and finishes and even how many hours they work. Part time employees still need manager approval for flexibility changes and all the guidance is subject to “manager and team alignment”.

Microsoft also signalled it is more open to staff working from different locations. 

Update: Which-50 has confirmed the guidance applies to all Microsoft staff globally.

A company spokesperson told Which-50, “Microsoft Australia has long had flexible work practices in place for applicable roles and we look forward to continuing to embrace a hybrid model that offers flexibility to our people as we emerge from the pandemic.

“In relation to workplace arrangements through COVID-19, the majority of our employees have been working from home since March, in line with Government guidance.”

Focus on flexibility

The tech giant employs over 166,000 people, most in the United States. Overwhelming Microsoft employees are engineers, a profession conducive to remote work.

“Moving forward, it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture,” Microsoft chief people officer Kathleen Hogan wrote in a company blog post

Hogan stressed the guidance is not carte blanche for employees on work arrangements and the company still sees value in employees interacting in the workplace.

This article has been updated to reflected additional comments from Microsoft Australia.

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