"The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live, and work in new ways."
Microsoft just announced that the remote working arrangements it set up during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue, even when it would be safe for employees to return to the office.
As long as they don't have a job that requires in-person work, like hardware engineers, Microsoft employees have been offered more options to continue working from home indefinitely, The Verge reports. Given Microsoft's size and prominence, the move could influence how other major companies approach office life as well.
Most significantly, the change allows permanently-remote workers to live anywhere else in the U.S., The Verge reports. Unfortunately, there's some fine print. Just like with Facebook's similar announcement in May, Microsoft employees who move to a less-expensive area might lose part of their income or benefits.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live, and work in new ways," Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft's chief people officer, wrote in a note to employees. "We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture."
Microsoft says it's offering all employees who are capable of working from home a hybrid work week that only asks them to come into the office for half their time. Or, with manager permission, employees could stay out of the office forever.
But details around how Microsoft will support those employees are hazier: The Verge reports that Microsoft will cover home office expenses for permanently-remote employees, but other things like relocation costs are entirely up to the employee.
READ MORE: Microsoft is letting employees work from home permanently [The Verge]
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