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Microsoft Opening 2 Campuses as Pandemic Conditions Improve

Microsoft announced on Monday that it now plans to reopen its Washington state campus on Feb. 28, since Covid-19 cases have declined.

Campus services will be operational, including Microsoft's Connector ride-share transportation for employees, and will be fully open to employees and visitors.

Microsoft also said its plans to open its new Silicon Valley campus in California will also happen on Feb. 28.

Other U.S. Microsoft office locations may open as well, depending on pandemic health conditions, Microsoft indicated.

In Washington state's King County, where Microsoft's headquarters is located, the vaccination rate is high. About "91.6%" of people "have received at least one dose" of the COVID-19 vaccine, the announcement indicated. This high vaccination rate, plus lower hospitalizations and death rates due to the pandemic, influenced Microsoft's decision to fully reopen its facilities.

Microsoft has readjusted its plans to reopen its facilities a few times since COVID-19 became a prominent concern a couple of years ago. In April of last year, Microsoft had expected that its general reopening would occur on Sept. 7, 2021. That date was a readjustment from a planned March 29, 2021 "soft open" date. However, none of those plans came to be.

During early pandemic times, Microsoft adopted a so-called "hybrid workspace" approach, which permitted its employees have greater flexibility in working from home. They could work full time from home, or split their time between the office and home. Such arrangements were all subject to manager requirements, though.

Microsoft also began studying the work-from-home phenomenon. It found that people working from home were more productive or as productive in comparison with working in an office building. However, those working from home also reported feeling burned out by work pressures.

Throughout the pandemic, Microsoft had been implementing a six-stage gradual reopening plan for its facilities. A full reopening represented the final sixth phase, which was planned to occur when COVID-19 was no longer deemed "a significant burden on our communities." Monday's announcement of a Feb. 28 facilities reopening represents that understanding.

The reopening is still subject to any change in health conditions, but Microsoft appears to be sticking with work flexibility for its employees.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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