The Remote Weekly goes out every Wednesday and brings to you original content, product tips and latest stories around remote working.
Coronavirus outbreak - Remote work no longer a privilege, but a necessity 🌎
I am sure the Coronavirus outbreak isn't news to you anymore. You would already know how its impact is worsening each day affecting multiple industries and disrupting business. However, in effect, it has also forced one of the largest work-from-home experiments in the history of remote work.
In this week's issue, I would like to take you through the scale of this experiment and what this could possibly mean for the future of remote work. Read on!
Big businesses ask their employees to work remotely
Given the contagious nature of the virus, companies are avoiding in-office work as much possible. This news piece by Al Jazeera details how big companies like Volkswagen, UBS Group, Facebook, Starbucks etc. have reacted to the outbreak. All of them have asked their employees to either extend their existing vacation/ break (it's currently lunar new year holiday in China) or resume by working from home.
If you follow this thread on Hackernews, you will see multiple individuals citing their personal experiences on how they were asked to not come to office or work from home on short notice.
Surge in traffic for remote work tools
Naturally, if companies are forcing their employees to work from home, they would want to have them connected through video conference, calls, polls etc. The corresponding tools are having a tough time handling the traffic spike.
Here are just a few stats to understand the impact:
Alibaba's Dingtalk, a communication and collaboration platform, saw ~200 million users on a single day and crashed around 9AM on Monday due to too many concurrent video conferences.
Millions of companies started using WeChat work and it crashed as well, leading to a temporary flow limitation by the app. Although it has increased the maximum number of people in a single remote conference (its free-conferencing feature) to 300.
Zoom has seen record usage over the past few days. Its stock price also surged by 15% owing to the spread of the virus and partly also due to the outage of Microsoft Teams.
Are companies prepared for this?
It's a no-brainer that you can't shift to working remotely in just a few days and expect to have the same productivity or output. Remote work is a skill that takes time to acquire. In fact, large companies aren't even prepared, infrastructure-wise, for such an eventuality and are spending weeks to upgrade their infrastructure for remote access.
As you already know, this is more of a forced measure or eventuality and isn't representative of how remote work will actually pan out for companies on a large scale. It may be too early to draw concrete conclusions on whether this will affect large scale adoption of remote work.
However, one thing's for sure - companies would like to be better prepared for an eventuality where they are forced to adopt remote work on a wider scale. Maybe we will see new remote work policies in place at large firms to tackle this.
It will also be interesting to see if there are any new findings or lessons we derive around remote work from this experiment.
If you have any more information or personal experiences to share around this, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Shane White is an entrepreneur at heart and began his career by building a profitable business named 'Midwest Streams' while living in Fargo. Interestingly, he also had a DJ business on the side. It was when he moved to Texas that he started working remotely for the first time. Shane absolutely loves the benefits of remote work, particularly freelancing. He's also building a new business on the side called 'The Match Artist' which helps singles click pictures for their dating profiles! Intrigued? Read more about his journey here.
As always, here are our top-picks of remote-first products:
✔️ Vectorly helps you build engaged and productive teams
✔️ ntile helps you organize your business in a single space
✔️ Teamworki is a toolkit for effective meetings and morale tracking