Microsoft has revealed its issues over getting staff back into the office after two years of remote work.
Bill Gates’ tech giant has started calling employees back to its headquarters in recent weeks, but its return-to-work strategy is based on hybrid work.
Companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are starting to navigate the tumultuous return to work after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Even as employees return to their desks, the company’s leaders are focusing their effort on those who aren’t in the workplace.
Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Modern Work at Microsoft, said in an interview said: “It’s counterintuitive, you have to design your physical space for the people who aren’t there.”
Microsoft’s return to the office is one of the numerous corporate migrations that have had to be postponed, often a number of times.
Recent months have seen corporations struggle with fluctuating Covid infection rates and a Supreme Court battle over state-wide vaccine regulations.
High gas prices are also likely to slow down the return to work.
Many CEOs and civic leaders, such as New York Mayor Eric Adam, are keen to see workers return to their desks.
Microsoft’s policy is that schedules with more than 50 percent remote working must be approved by supervisors.
The company’s engineers now spend a lot of time wheeling office chairs around to try to shift camera angles at The Hive test site to capture the ideal teleconference experience for those who aren’t there.
They’ve found small tweaks can improve the experience and make daily calls with those who aren’t there less of a chore.
The standard conference table has been redesigned into a triangle pointing away from the screens, or as a truncated semi-circle facing the screen, in the style of the United Nations.
This is hoped to solve an issue in the traditional meeting room where people don’t face the camera and people often divert their attention toward the people in the room.
Such changes could give Microsoft’s Teams software suite an advantage over its competitors.
Microsoft is expected to come in the second position behind Zoom in conferencing software revenue in the first half of 2021, but ahead of Cisco’s Webex.
Meantime, at Microsoft’s headquarters last week, occupancy jumped 142 percent from the prior one, according to the company, which declined to provide further details.