Microsoft will fully reopen its headquarters on February 28th

Expect hybrid work to be commonplace, though.

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Microsoft is finally ready to reopen key offices after two years of pandemic-related closures and numerous delays. The company now plans to enter the "final stage" of its Washington state return-to-work plan starting Feb 28th, at which point facilities (including the company's Redmond headquarters) and services will be completely open to workers and visitors alike. From that day forward, staff will have 30 days to adjust to whatever work routine they and their managers have chosen, whether it's in-person, remote or hybrid.

Offices in California's San Francisco Bay Area will also open starting February 28th. Other US offices would follow "as conditions allow," according to Microsoft.

The Windows creator justified the move by pointing to high vaccination rates in its home county as well as falling hospitalizations and deaths. Local testing and compliance with government guidance were also part of the strategy, Microsoft said.

The schedule is more aggressive than the timelines seen at some of Microsoft's peers. Meta is currently aiming for March 28th, while Apple and others have indefinite delays. Amazon is dropping mask mandates for fully vaccinated warehouse workers, but it's also ending paid leave for unvaccinated workers who develop COVID-19. The company also loosened its in-person work requirements for office employees.

Microsoft's decision signals confidence that the worst of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant surge are behind the company. However, they also reflect changed expectations — remote work is more practical, in part through Microsoft tools like Teams and Viva. The firm is also preparing for a future where Mesh enables mixed reality collaboration. There just isn't as much pressure to return to the office as there was in 2020, and those who do return may see more sparsely-populated buildings — at least, for now.

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