Microsoft asks staff to think twice before submitting expenses

Business travel, outside training, and picnic overheads all under watchful gaze of Redmond's accountants

Microsoft is telling staff across the entire business to cast a more watchful eye over expenses in the face of economic uncertainty.

Some business travel, external training sessions, and company get-togethers are all falling under the gaze of Redmond's accountants.

In one recent instance recounted by a loquacious yet unidentified source, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft managers personally paid the bill to feed and water staff at a company picnic, something the multibillion-dollar-profit business would have covered itself before.

Last month during an earnings call to discuss Microsoft's financials for its Q4 ended 30 June, chief financial officer Amy Hood said: "We will continue to invest in future growth while maintaining intense focus on operational excellence and execution discipline."

Also in July, Hood reportedly told staff at a company meeting to think twice before submitting expenses.

We have asked Microsoft to comment.

Microsoft revenues grew 12 percent year-on-year to $51.9 billion in Q4, the slowest growth rate for two years, with some of the PC and consumer-facing units posting single-digit gains and Intelligent Cloud up 26 percent, itself a relative slowdown.

CEO Satya Nadella said it was still seeing a "pretty strong demand signal," adding: "Going into the pandemic, we saw demand increase because of the constraints the pandemic put on corporations and the increased consumer activity.

"Coming out of the pandemic, we are seeing actually a lot of constraints in the economy and the only resource, as I said in my remarks, that can help drive productivity while keeping costs down is digital tech."

Despite this, Microsoft recently closed unfilled job vacancies in the cloud and security divisions with the company saying it was making sure the "right resources are aligned to the right opportunity" and insisting it will "continue to grow headcount in the year ahead."

This follows a slowdown in hiring in the Windows, Office, and Teams units, and after Microsoft laid off less than 1 percent of its 180,000 workforce as part of annual trimming.

Others in the industry are acting cautiously too. Apple, Cisco, Intel, Google, and others are also putting recruitment on ice in parts of the business. Chip vendors are starting to issue words of warning about an oncoming slowdown, including Nvidia and Micron, and storage giant Seagate revealed recently it is lowering production. ®

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