Since the pandemic shook the globe, many industries have made adjustments in their policies to suit the situation and properly effect the rule on social distancing. One of such policies includes the option to work remotely. While some industries are looking forward to a time when all employees can resume work at their stations, big tech is looking at making it a permanent option for staff. Microsoft has told its staff that the option to work from home would be approved permanently.
Prior to now, Facebook and Twitter had announced their decision to also make the option permanent for staff.
Overall, this has led to a rethink in getting industries consider the option of reducing the number of staff who can resume physically. This way, they can save cost on office space and maintenance and channel the funds into other areas for business growth.
However, just like artificial intelligence cannot take over all of human jobs, there are specific roles or functions that would require an in-person presence. Microsoft for instance, said some job functions such as those needing access to hardware will be physically required on-site. Regardless, many of such staff who wish to work remotely can get approval from their managers to do so part-time.
“Our goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention-guided by employee input, data, and our commitment to support individual work styles and business needs while living our culture,” a spokesperson from Microsoft said.
Just before the pandemic, only 2% of the staff at Microsoft worked remotely full-time. By April, at the peak of the COVID-19 saga, the figure had risen to over 46%. Many staff had hailed the shift initially as producing productive results, but unfortunately was short-lived as some drawbacks began to emerge.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive mentioned the downside of having no division between private life and work life. “It sometimes feels like you are sleeping at work,” she said at a conference. In retrospect, instead of working remotely full time, many industries are considering making policies that combine two days a week at home and the other three days at the office for meetings and building company culture.
Accordingly, allowing staff to permanently work from home is considered a radical extreme as many people cannot ideally be efficient working remotely for long, even though it is very unlikely that working routing would return to the pre-pandemic state.
Over 80% employees in industries have supported the idea of working remotely following the virus concerns and the adherence to the social distance rule. So far, this has reduced the demand for office and residential properties in expensive city centres. Rents in many parts of urban areas have significantly dropped.
The pandemic has not affected much negatively in terms of revenue. Microsoft in September joined the bid to buy the Chinese short video app TikTok but was rejected in favour of Oracle. Sources reveal that the decision might have a political undertone but what we are sure of is that this has something to do with the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing.