July is new target for reopening offices after COVID-19

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Businesses are extending work-from-home policies by pushing office reopening dates from January 2021 out to July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Microsoft is giving some employees the option of permanent work-from-home status with the approval of a manager, while others could opt to work from home for less than 50% of their workweek in a "hybrid workplace" format, the company announced on Friday.

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"Moving forward, it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture," Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, said in a post on the official Microsoft Blog.

The tech giant is the latest in Silicon Valley to make such a move, joining the ranks of Twitter and Zillow, which are allowing their employees to work from home indefinitely.

Health experts have warned that the oncoming colder months and inevitable flu season will hit twice as hard this year when combined with a predicted uptick in coronavirus cases.

Infections have increased 19% in the last two weeks, according to the New York Times, with 45,927 new cases reported across the country on Monday.

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Against that backdrop, Target, Ford and others have joined Microsoft in delaying their reopenings. Google, Uber, Slack and Airbnb have adopted similar positions.

According to a recent study by Wakefield Research commissioned by Envoy, a workplace technology company, 73% of workers say they fear going back to work will put them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

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