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September 10, 2021

Microsoft announced Thursday that it's scrapping plans to fully reopen US offices early next month because of concerns about the Delta variant.

The tech giant declined to set a new reopening date but promised to give employees 30 days' notice.
"Given the uncertainty of Covid-19, we've decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favor of opening US work sites as soon as we're able to do so safely based on public health guidance," Jared Spataro, Microsoft (MSFT)'s corporate vice president for modern work, said in a blog post.
Microsoft had planned to fully reopen its Redmond, Washington, headquarters, and many other offices in the United States as early as October 4.
"The evolving Delta variant is compelling many of us to adjust plans for reopening worksites," Spataro wrote. "It's a stark reminder that this is the new normal. Our ability to come together will ebb and flow."

Microsoft joins a growing list of major companies forced to delay their back-to-office plans. Wells Fargo, BlackRock, CNN, and others pushed back their plans to reopen offices after Labor Day until October. Amazon, Facebook, and other tech companies have said they won't be back in the office until 2022 at the earliest.
 Analyst View

The world will continue to contend with the challenges that the pandemic throws at the workplace; thus  Covid-19 will continue to alter the options available to employers and employees. Aside the millions that were furloughed or lost jobs many others are still adjusting to working from home and the needed skills.

The most obvious impact of the pandemic on the labor force is the dramatic increase in employees working remotely, which implies that remote work will multiply by up to 5 times. Remote workers have to adapt to new geographies and the accompanying distractions. Another challenge, for employers, will be optimizing the effectiveness of these changing dynamics.

However, more companies will most likely adopt the flexible workplace strategy whereby critical functions that require physical engagement will be retained within the work areas while other less critical functions will fit perfectly to the remote workplace model.