The big (and not so big) technology has started to move in to prevent the coronavirus from spreading among your templates. Companies like Google have just announced that they are sending all their workers in North America to their homes to work from there, and the same had been raised by others like Apple, Microsoft or Twitter in recent days.
Google had already sent home their staff in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Dublin, and now they have done the same with all their employees in North America, something they have confirmed to Business Insider. Most of Google’s 100,000-plus employees worldwide are in this region, making it clear that Google wants to tackle the problem at its root.
This is the latest in a series of events that have confirmed the concern of the technology giants about the spread of the coronavirus. Tim Cook offered Apple employees worldwide teleworking.
Microsoft made the same move a few days ago when it encouraged all its employees in the San Francisco and Seattle offices to work from home until March 25 next. Twitter made an announcement on March 1 that all its workers could take advantage of teleworking, and that this measure was mandatory in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.
Facebook also began activating these measures on March 6, while Amazon began evaluating the use of VPNs in its Seattle offices so that its workers could take advantage of this type of measure. The company confirmed that one of its employees in those offices had tested positive for coronavirus.
These measures caused historic traffic spikes in video conferencing tools such as Skype or Zoom and in business communication tools such as Slack.
The other unexpected consequence: the increase in traffic in online games such as Arena of Valor and PUBG Mobile, by Tencent, or TikTok, by ByteDance, which have multiplied their use now that many are at home and need to be entertained. The impact at all levels is being exceptional, and in the coming days and weeks it is likely that these measures for teleworking will go further both in our country and in many others.
The end of China as the world’s factory
American companies are starting to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Although it is by no means a stampede home, the rate of return, or “reshoring” of American companies, is increasing, including the relocation to American soil of workers who have so far been displaced around the world. There are several reasons for this positive trend, some of them surprising.
Trump’s trade war with China, which has put high tariffs on Chinese products on the table, is also partly responsible. How far it was, however, is debatable. But in the big picture, it has been a cascade of events that has broken the spell of outsourcing to China.
The coronavirus has been another more point for companies to stop entrusting the manufacture of their products to Chinese factories, as it has added to the Chinese New Year holiday and caused serious problems in the supply chain and mistrust in the management of the Chinese authorities to deal with the crisis, especially the lack of transparency.
Although these decisions are not taken in the heat of the moment and take months and, most of the time, years to implement, we will gradually see many companies trying to expand their range of suppliers with factories on American territory and in other countries, especially for labour-intensive products.