Today is the anniversary of the day when the Janta Curfew was imposed in India, and while some things have returned to normal, people are still struggling from COVID 19 and the subsequqnt lockdown. The same is true for other countries as well, where lockdown was imposed to curb the spread of the disease. As the pandemic forced us indoors, homes became the new offices, and now most companies have been working-from home for over a year now. However, as some semblance of normalcy return to our life, it looks like things are shaking up in the business world as well. Microsoft, a name that needs no introduction, is about to become the first one to set a trend, and partially re-open offices this month.

The software giant is planning to start allowing willing employees back into their Redmond and Seattle, Washington based headquarters, starting March 29th. This initial stage one will be followed by five other stages- a plan which Microsoft had outlined last year. With the discovery and then rapid distribution of the vaccine, the future looks hopeful, and the officials hope that they would open offices at stage five (full capacity with restrictions) and even stage six (full capacity without restrictions) quite soon.

That being said, Microsoft has given the employees full autonomy over whether they want to continue remote work or come back to the traditional offices. They can also do a mix of both – staying home some days and coming to the office on others. The company is also thinking of incorporating work from home for a part of the year as a standard practice.

This is due to the necessity of continued safety measures in the new normal, as well as nearly 73% workers wanting to continue work from home, according to a survey conducted by the company. Microsoft is looking to build new technologies to implement the same and to bridge the gap between homes and offices. This includes looking for new ways to conduct meetings. For that, it is rumored that the company may develop Microsoft teams even more, so that it is compatible with all devices, which would allow home workers to join and attend meetings from big screens such as televisions.

Meanwhile, Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s head of corporate strategy said, “Currently, Microsoft work sites in 21 countries have been able to accommodate additional workers in our facilities – representing around 20% of our global employee population. On March 29, Microsoft will also start making this shift at our Redmond, Washington, headquarters and nearby campuses.”

He also talked about making home workers just as well equipped as those at offices, as well as being flexible about remote and traditional work. “Though we don’t know how far off a new normal is, we are adapting to a new way of working with an expanded understanding of flexibility. We know there are thousands of ways of working – in the last year, our employees have shown what is possible – and we believe that flexibility is essential to maintaining work-life balance.”