A Microsoft exec said that some staff slept in data centers during the pandemic to avoid getting stuck in roadblocks on the commute home

A Microsoft exec said that some staff slept in data centers during the pandemic to avoid getting stuck in roadblocks on the commute home
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
  • Some Microsoft employees slept in the company's data centers during the pandemic, an exec said.
  • Kristen Roby Dimlow said these employees were worried about being unable to travel home.
  • Another Microsoft exec previously told CNBC the company provided staff transport to data centers.

Employees at Microsoft data centers sometimes slept on site during the pandemic, according to an executive at the tech giant.

For some Microsoft employees in technical roles, remote working proved impossible. These included some staff at sites housing servers for Microsoft's online services, including Microsoft Teams, CNBC reported.

"I heard amazing stories about people actually sleeping in data centers," Kristen Roby Dimlow, corporate vice president for total rewards, performance, and human resources business insights at Microsoft, said Wednesday during a conversation with Morgan Stanley analysts, per CNBC.

"In certain countries there was huge lockdown, and so we would have our own employees choose to sleep in the data center because they were worried they'd get stuck at a roadblock, trying to go home," she said.

Read more: Leaked audio shows Microsoft is getting back into physical retail a year after closing all of its stores, as it quietly reopens its flagship New York City location


When asked for comment by CNBC, Microsoft would not say where or how many staff slept in data centers. Microsoft did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

During the pandemic, the company let data-center employees work from home where possible if they didn't want to come on site, Noelle Walsh, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Cloud Operations and Innovation group, told CNBC in April.

She said that the company provided transport to and from the sites, and let people stay in hotels if they didn't want to take public transport. In some cases, the company turned to shift work to ensure the centers were properly staffed, she said.

Microsoft is introducing flexible working, allowing most of its 160,000 employees to choose their return-to-office schedules. Under the policy, most staff can spend less than half their week working remotely without manager approval.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said last year that he believed most employees would still want a desk in physical offices, rather than working from home permanently, but the company said that people who returned to the office in spring 2021 were spending much less time there than pre-pandemic.


In May, the company released a video showing what it thinks the future of hybrid working looks like. This included eye-level cameras installed in meeting-room tables so that in-person attendees can make eye contact with their virtual teammates.