Microsoft is not taking the same financial beating as many of its peers due to the pandemic. Revenue jumped 15% in the first quarter of 2020, Microsoft Teams users increased by more than 70% in April, and the company’s stock price is up 14% this year.
But financials aren’t everything to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. He is still concerned about the changes to work that the coronavirus crisis is forcing. Nadella spoke with the staff of the New York Times this week about the challenges he’s navigating as Microsoft’s leader.
“What I miss is when you walk into a physical meeting, you are talking to the person that is next to you, you’re able to connect with them for the two minutes before and after,” he said.
Nadella warned about the consequences of embracing telecommuting permanently:
“What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What does that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is, hey, maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remote. What’s the measure for that?”
Nadella’s concern doesn’t appear to be shared widely throughout the technology industry. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey notified staff this week that they should feel free to work from home indefinitely if they choose. Salesforce and Zillow will give employees the option to telecommute for the rest of the year.
Microsoft was one of the first companies to shift its tech workforce remotely when the coronavirus hit and will likely continue to pioneer flexible arrangements for employees. But Nadella warned the New York Times that switching to entirely remote offices would be “replacing one dogma with another dogma.”