Microsoft offices in Washington state and the San Francisco Bay Area will reopen for in-person work starting Feb. 28, according to a blog post by Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on Monday. This decision comes, the company said, as a result of “improving local health metrics,” with falling COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths and high vaccination rates.
Microsoft in September delayed its office reopening plans amid the continued pandemic. The next step would be to fully reopen every US location.
In the post, Capossela outlined several reasons for the return-to-office decision in Washington: high vaccination rates, declining hospitalizations and deaths, and consistent local COVID-19 testing.
“As of Feb. 8, 2022, 83.8% of eligible King County residents — where most of our Washington state employees live — have completed their vaccine series, and 91.6% have received at least one dose,” Capossela said in the post.
Read more: How Long Do COVID-19 Vaccines Last?
Microsoft said it will be flexible with employees in the upcoming weeks, allowing them to request adjustments to their work site, location or hours for a more hybrid working schedule. All employees will have 30 days from Feb. 28 to make those adjustments.
“When we originally shared our return to office approach with employees in the spring of 2020, our world looked much different,” Capossela said. “Throughout the past 18 months, we’ve seen exciting advances in science and medicine — from the development of vaccines to new strides in medical treatments. While the world has changed, our dedication to the safety and well-being of our employees has remained constant. As we navigate this new phase of work, we’ll continue to take a data-driven approach to decision making that follows the guidance of public health authorities.”
Microsoft is set to be one of the first major tech companies to return to in-person work. In January, Meta delayed its plans until March 28 due to the omicron variant causing cases to surge. Amazon and Google have also made postponements, while Apple has indefinitely delayed its deadline.