Microsoft has indefinitely postponed plans to bring workers back to its US offices, making it one of the first high-profile companies to scrap a definitive return-to-office date because of uncertainties created by the continued spread of COVID-19.

The tech group had earmarked 4th October as the first possible day to fully reopen its headquarters in the Seattle metropolitan area and other offices around the country. It told workers in a blog post on Thursday it was giving up for now on setting a specific return date.

“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our US work sites in favour of opening US work sites as soon as we’re able to do so safely based on public health guidance.”

Microsoft had already said it would require workers and visitors coming to its offices in the US to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting in September, as have many other large employers.
Other big companies have responded to the latest surge of COVID-19 in the US by pushing back return-to-office dates.

Google last month said it would extend its voluntary work from home policy through to early January, while Amazon, Facebook, Ford and Uber have also pushed their return plans into 2022.

The financial services industry has been more aggressive in trying to bring employees back, but rising coronavirus infection rates have forced several companies to revise their return-to-office plans.

Wells Fargo scrapped its plan to have its workers back in the office after 6th September and pushed the return date to 4th October. Asset manager BlackRock and insurer Prudential also pushed their return-to-office dates to October.

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, however, started mandating bankers return to the office in the US in June.

Propelled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant and low levels of vaccination coverage in some states, the US was averaging rates of new infections and levels of hospitalisations by the end of the summer that were at the highest since the winter surge in January.

The US has reported about 140,000 new cases a day over the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals remains above 100,000, according to federal figures.

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