Is remote work going to end up as standard across tech, simply by default? Microsoft today followed Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon in delaying, again, plans for a full reopening of its offices. Unlike those companies, each of which set January as the next planned reopening target, Microsoft has given up forecasting a date. Instead, it says it will reopen “as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance.” Score one to Microsoft for realism.
For all the companies, though, what these delays imply is that even if offices fully reopen early next year, many people will have spent nearly two full years working remotely—and what’s to say it won’t be much longer? Given the constantly evolving nature of Covid and much of the news media’s emphasis on the worst-case scenarios of the virus, you have to wonder how we’ll ever get to a point where everyone feels safe returning to the office. (One answer for many remote workers will come when small children can be vaccinated).