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Microsoft Boss Unconvinced About Permanently Remote Workplaces

Microsoft is one of the few tech companies which hasn’t yet offered full-time remote working for its employees in a post-COVID 19 world.

CEO Satya Nadella took a virtual ‘trip’ to Australia over seven hours last week and told the Australian Financial Review he was still uncertain about the benefits of permanently remote workplaces.

While other tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Shopify and Altlassian giving staff the option to choose where they work from, Microsoft is yet to follow in their footsteps.

“I don’t think it’s about one size fits all so, in time, we will need to see, by role, what are things people really want,” Nadella said.

“Because in some sense, trying to be too dogmatic based on six months of constrained work, and to think that we have somehow come upon what is a long-term stable way of doing things is probably not right.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

While he is yet to make a definitive statement for or against remote workplaces, Nadella said Microsoft would be analysing data to see how employees fared during lockdown.

“I think we will come out of this with more of an appreciation for why flexibility in how we do things is going to be the most important capability any organisation can have to be resilient to tail events,”  Nadella added.

Microsoft has also been busy updating the features of its communication platform Teams, with a ‘Together Mode’ introduced which will make virtual meetings feel more natural and a ‘commute’ feature which is set to be launched in 2021.

Microsoft Research studies found that “the reflection typically done during that time can increase productivity by 12-15%.” Teams will let users schedule a virtual commute at the start and end of your day.

“What we’re finding is that that commute experience — it’s good for it not to be too long, but it did play a role in helping us clear our heads,” Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro said in a press briefing.

“Think about what we were going into in the day and think about clearing up what we are coming out of in a day. And so this virtual commute experience allows you to take a step back, again going into and coming out of your day to just organize your thoughts and to make sure you’re really processing, doing some pre- and post-processing of your work.”

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