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Microsoft delays US return to office as COVID cases rise

The tech giant is altering its plans as the highly contagious delta variant spreads.

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Microsoft is pushing off its return to offices in the US indefinitely amid rising cases of COVID-19 across the country. 

"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 favor of opening US work sites as soon as we're able to do so safely based on public health guidance," Microsoft's corporate vice president for modern work, Jared Spataro, wrote in a blog post. He added that the company would communicate a 30-day transition period to allow employees time to prepare to return to work sites. 

Microsoft had been preparing for an Oct. 4 date to bring back employees. Other tech companies, including Amazon, Twitter, and Google, are also grappling with shifting plans as the highly contagious delta variant spreads

In an interview published Thursday by CNBC, which earlier reported news of the change, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said companies should use data to help decide when and how employees can safely return to work, adding that anyone saying they've already found the answer to hybrid work is "short-sighted."

A Microsoft spokesperson added that the company will fully reopen US worksites once "Stage 6 health and criteria and local guidelines are met at each location." In a blog post in March, the company outlined Stage 6 as when COVID-19 is no longer a "significant burden on the local community and presents itself more like an endemic virus such as the seasonal flu."