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More Microsoft workers heading back to offices this month as COVID-19 cases wane in Puget Sound region

The company had previously aimed for a January 2022 reopening, but the omicron variant stymied those plans.

REDMOND, Wash. — One of western Washington’s tech giants announced its plans Monday to start bringing back workers to its offices and begin reopening its campuses.

Microsoft, which is headquartered in Redmond, has given its employees 30 days from Feb. 28 to completely transition to long-term working preferences as the company moves away from its pandemic-era “hybrid workplace model.”

In a letter to employees, Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela cited improving COVID-19 metrics across the state, especially the relatively high vaccination rate of King County residents.

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“Reaching this stage allows us to fully open our facilities to employees, visitors and guests. All campus services will return, including the Connector ride-share option for employees in the Puget Sound area,” Capossela wrote.

If all goes to plan based on the letter, Microsoft campuses and workplaces will all likely be fully reopened by March 30.

Early last year, Microsoft announced the six stages of its hybrid workplace, with the final stage being completely opened and virtually all employees back on-site. Currently, the company is in its fifth stage, which has campuses open but with various restrictions in place.

However, Capossela explains that the company is not returning to its pre-pandemic practices but instead introducing more flexibility for employees and managers to determine what’s best for each individual while being able to react if the pandemic worsens once again.

“As we navigate this new phase of work, we’ll continue to take a data-driven approach to decision making that follows the guidance of public health authorities. We’re maintaining a close watch on local health data in every area where Microsoft has a physical presence, and we’ll adjust our course if necessary,” Capossela wrote.

The company’s Silicon Valley campus in the Bay Area of California will fully reopen on Feb. 28. 

News of the company reopening its offices comes just months after it suspended bringing workers back “indefinitely.” The company has also required employees and vendors coming onto its campuses to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since last fall.

Other tech companies in the Puget Sound region have had recent return-to-office plans stymied by the delta and omicron variants of the virus. For instance, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced in October last year that the company had decided to leave it up to team leaders on when and how employees would come back to work in the office after being forced to push back the return-to-office date again.

The state’s current COVID numbers are higher than they’ve ever been, but case rates and hospitalizations are on a steep decline.

As of Feb. 7, nearly 73% of eligible Washingtonians are fully vaccinated against the virus.

 

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