Microsoft isn't giving up plans to transition to collaborativework spaces, but it is making adjustments for the effects ofCOVID-19. So said the company's head of global real estate andsecurity, Michael Ford, on the CBRE podcast The Weekly Take.

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"We've done our research and we're transitioning from individualoffices to team-based spaces, and those spaces are for eight totwelve engineers, employees, working in a team room or aneighborhood," Ford told CBRE's Spencer Levy.

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The spaces will be equipped with "focus rooms, concentrationzones and more collaborative spaces. So that's a major shift forMicrosoft and a major change for Microsoft across our portfolio,"Ford said.

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But the company is keeping COVID-19 in mind. "With the newsocial distancing standards, the six feet or two meters, we willmake sure we're complying with that new standard," Ford told Levy."So we will create more space around each individual employee."

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Ford said Microsoft has been in individual offices for over 30years. Corporate headquarters are in Redmond, WA, but the companyoperates 700 locations across 117 different countries.

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Most employees are working from home, but when Redmond is fullyoperational, employees can use a Microsoft app called MyHub toarrange transportation and other logistics. "They can order lunch,they can check a menu, they can book a conference room, they canbook one of our shuttles or connectors into campus and aroundcampus," he said. "They don't have to send an e-mail to real estateand facilities or security."

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Ford said that some Microsoft employees have always worked fromhome. He expects that number to remain higher even after thepandemic has run its course, "because of all the tools and theproducts and services that are being developed that allows anemployee to work from anywhere in the world." The company plans tosupport both approaches.

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Ford said he believes that co-working "is here to stay" for manycompanies, though COVID-19 may be pushing out the timeline foradoption at Microsoft. "I don't know if [it's] going to be threeyears, five years, 10 years down the road. But I can see us goingin that direction also, becoming more dense."

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He said that Microsoft will not be rushing employees back ontoits campuses. "We want to take a slower approach at Microsoft andmake sure we get the model right," Ford said. "This is something wedon't need to be the leader in. We can step back and watch othersmove back into the office and we can move later. We're in norush."

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Scott Graham

Scott Graham focuses on intellectual property and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He writes ALM's Skilled in the Art IP briefing. Contact him at [email protected].