Coronavirus: Google, Amazon, Microsoft push remote working

By William Smith
The world’s largest technology companies are taking advantage of their high-tech capabilities and asking staff to work from home due to coronavirus...

The world’s largest technology companies are taking advantage of their high-tech capabilities and asking staff to work from home due to coronavirus.

With a particularly bad outbreak in Washington State (70 confirmed cases and 10 deaths as of 5 March), the home of two of the largest tech companies in the form of Amazon and Microsoft, both companies have asked employees to work from home. Facebook and Google, too, are making the same suggestion, according to The Verge.

Such recommendations are particularly urgent, considering the contraction of coronavirus by an employee at its Seattle headquarters. The willingness of the four to implement such measures reflects the flexibilities of the modern workplace, with the likes of Microsoft and Google having developed remote working software such as Microsoft Teams.

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With school closures already happening in the likes of Italy, it’s not just parents who are being disrupted. In a blog post, Jennie Magiera, Google’s Global Head of Education Impact, Google for Education, said: “I spent more than a decade working in schools as a teacher and administrator. Whenever there was an event that caused the school to close, I found a way to ensure that students didn’t lose valuable learning time. We call this “distance learning” and many teachers, whether they work in a virtual school or are faced with a unique event, are exploring how to make it work. Currently, we’re facing such an event. Concerns over the transmission of COVID-19 are closing schools across the globe, and millions of students are unable to physically attend school.”

Consequently, Google has made previously premium features of its Google Hangouts communication software free for all to make distance learning more convenient. Such features include up to 250 participants on one call and capacity for 100,000 live stream viewers.

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