Microsoft recently announced new guidance for remote work, and it has potential to change how the company works for years to come.

The biggest change: making work from home, at least part of the time, the new permanent standard. Also standard is "work schedule flexibility," which gives employees more freedom to choose the hours and days when they work, along with their workday start and end times.

Microsoft's announcement, which you can read here in full, does a great job of leading with empathy. But I'd like to zoom in on a single sentence, because it reveals a major key to keeping employees happier and more productive:

"Moving forward, it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture."

We can sum up the beauty of this policy in just six words:

Offer as much flexibility as possible.

These six words advocate a brilliant business strategy founded on emotional intelligence, the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. Let's break down why every company should implement it.

Why flexibility is invaluable

To understand why Microsoft's new policy is so great, you have to acknowledge a fundamental truth:

Your employees aren't just workers, they're individuals. Real people with different working styles, tastes, and preferences. This applies as much to the topic of remote work as to anything. 

For example, one employee may prefer to work from home, so they can easily take their children to school. Another, also with children, may prefer working in the office for the opposite reason--so they can get away from the chaos of home. 

Or, consider a single employee who lives alone. If more introverted, they may prefer to work from home where they don't have to have more than necessary contact with others, and can focus on their work. In contrast, a more extroverted person may prefer to come into the office, where they can have social contact and enjoy collaboration.

Of course, there are many who prefer a hybrid approach, with the choice to work in the office or at home, depending on the circumstances or simply how they feel that day.

So, how do you keep all of these employees happy?

Offer as much flexibility as possible.

"Flexibility can mean different things to each of us, and we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all solution given the variety of roles, work requirements, and business needs we have at Microsoft," writes Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft's chief people officer.

In other words, you treat your employees like adults and give them the freedom to make the choice that's best for them--and allow them to take responsibility for those choices.

When adopting this policy, though, it's important you not constantly subject your employees to comparison. Managers will be tempted to look at the surface, judging the "stay-at-home" employee as more or less productive than the "office" employees.

But remember: These aren't just workers, they're people. Each is an individual, with a unique personality. A unique set of strengths and weaknesses. A unique set of circumstances.

By providing each individual with flexibility, i.e., options to fit their circumstances, you provide them with the environment that allows those individuals to become the best version of themselves.

And that's empowering.

So, for all you companies out there who are trying to figure out your own remote work policy, take a page from Microsoft's playbook and:

Offer as much flexibility as possible.

By doing so, you'll be using emotional intelligence to build stronger relationships with your people. You'll give them the freedom they crave and need. You'll prove that you see them not just as cogs in a machine but as individuals.

And that will put your people--and your company--in the best position to succeed.