Like many other retailers, Microsoft shut down its physical stores around the world on March 16th. As much of the workforce has shifted suddenly to remote work amid the coronavirus pandemic, so too have some 2,000 Microsoft Store employees who have transitioned to serving customers remotely as part of the company’s Emergency Remote Operations plan, according to a company blog post.
The remote customer support program is optional for employees, and not all are able to participate because they may have demands at home. But Microsoft corporate vice president of stores, David Porter, said in a LinkedIn post that 80 percent of eligible workers signed up.
Employees who participate in the program get a weekly bonus, Porter wrote in the post, adding that the company was “providing regular pay for our retail team members, regardless of hours worked during this time.”
In the past month, store employees have trained 65,000 workers in health care, education, finance, and government on using Microsoft Teams, the company says. The remote meeting platform has seen demand increase rapidly, going from 32 million daily active users on March 11th to 44 million daily active users on March 18th. On March 31st, Teams set a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes, up 200 percent from mid-March.
As part of the remote training, Microsoft Store associates have trained school district personnel to teach remotely using Microsoft 365, and they are rolling out virtual coding workshops for kids. Companies taking part in the business training include the Cleveland Clinic, accounting firm Ernst & Young, and transportation and logistics company CN (Canadian National Railway).
Microsoft says its stores reach more than 2 billion customers from 190 locations around the world, both in-person and online.
Update, 3:04PM ET, April 10th, 2020: An earlier version of this article stated that certain employees were not eligible to participate in the program. That is not correct, Microsoft says that all store workers are eligible to participate but some are not able to due to demands at home. We regret the error.