Some of Washington state’s largest employers are telling their workers to telecommute to minimize the spread of coronavirus, and the policy could soon extend to Silicon Valley.
Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -2.51% has told employees in the Puget Sound region in Washington state and the San Francisco Bay Area to work from home until March 25, while Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL, -4.83% GOOG, -4.86% Google has recommended that some 4,500 employees at offices in Washington work from home, if possible.
Google made the decision after consulting with public health officials, according to a person familiar with the situation who is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The work-from-home edict does not apply to the company’s headquarters and satellite offices in Silicon Valley for now.
Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -2.62%, which employs 50,000 people in the Seattle/Bellevue area, is “recommending that employees.. who are able to work from home do so through the end of the month,” a company spokesperson told MarketWatch.
Facebook Inc. FB, -3.43% also told MarketWatch it has told several thousand employees in Seattle to work from home “if they have a heightened health concern,” a spokesman said. That includes those who are immunocompromised or lives with someone who is; those who are pregnant; anyone who has been in contact with someone with COVID-19; and anyone with kids home from school due to a school closure that doesn’t have childcare coverage.
Health officials in Washington state have said at least 70 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and at least 10 have died there, which means the state has reported the most significant clusters of cases in the U.S.
The decision by tech companies to shift thousands of workers to a telecommuting work schedule could led other industries to follow suit. Tech is better positioned to handle such an arrangement because it has the infrastructure and technology in place to effectively communicate and collaborate virtually. Indeed, many tech companies use teleconferencing and several — including Google, Adobe Inc. ADBE, -3.52% , and Workday Inc. WDAY, -3.26% — to move physical conferences to online-only summits.
Some 76% of Amazon employees and 30% of Google employees work from home, according to a survey conducted last week by Blind, an anonymous professional network with more than 3.2 million work-email verified professionals.
Remote work has been advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s one of the policies that nearly half (46%) of organizations are implementing because of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a survey of employers by Willis Towers Watson WLTW, -2.31% , an insurance brokerage and advisory company.
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