An internal Microsoft memo tells employees to talk to managers about coronavirus travel concerns — and some employees say it’s not enough (MSFT)

  • Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene sent an email to employees on Monday instructing them to discuss with their manager any concerns they might have with work travel amid the spread of coronavirus.
  • Some Microsoft employees expressed concerns to Business Insider that the company’s response is insufficient. Salesforce, for example, has paused nonessential travel for its 50,000 employees
  • Microsoft has yet to respond to a request for more information, but DelBene in his email said “global health authorities have communicated to us that the risk to the general public outside of Mainland China and those specific affected regions is presently low.”
  • Each of the six deaths from COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus – in the US at the time of this writing have occurred in Washington state, five of them in King County, home to Microsoft’s headquarters.
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Microsoft’s internal response to managing the coronavirus outbreak has included asking employees to discuss with their managers any travel concerns, according to an email reviewed by Business Insider.

“Any employee who feels uncomfortable travelling or attending any event (whether it be 1st or 3rd party, external or internal) should feel empowered to work with their manager to make the decision that is best for them and their family,” Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene said in an email to employees on Monday.

Each of the six deaths from COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus – in the US at the time of this writing have occurred in Washington state, five of them in King County, home to Microsoft’s headquarters.

“While there has been an increase in cases in specific regions of some countries like South Korea and Italy, global health authorities have communicated to us that the risk to the general public outside of Mainland China and those specific affected regions is presently low,” DelBene wrote.

Microsoft has yet to respond to a request for more information.

Some employees have expressed concerns that Microsoft’s response is insufficient. Two employees who spoke to Business Insider and wished to remain anonymous said the company’s response is “disappointing” and doesn’t measure up to the steps taken by other companies. Salesforce, for example, has paused nonessential travel for its 50,000 employees

Meanwhile, other employees discussed on Twitter whether it’s appropriate to leave the decision about whether or not it’s appropriate to travel up to managers rather than employees.

DelBene in the email also discussed Microsoft’s decision to cancel events. Microsoft on Monday also announced it would make the company’s Most Valuable Professional Summit online-only.

“Global health authorities have not issued guidance to cancel events,” DelBene wrote in the email. “At Microsoft, we are looking very thoughtfully at our event calendar, and in some cases shifting to digital-only experiences. Ultimately, the final decision to cancel, remain, or reduce our presence at events rests with the business owner of each event. Guidance has been prepared to inform these decision makers.”

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