Big Tech Asks Employees to Work From Home Over Coronavirus Concerns

Facebook, Google, Nintendo and Microsoft are among the companies directing staff to work from home

Last Updated: March 24, 2020 @ 1:09 PM

A growing number of tech companies and game developers in the Pacific Northwest are directing their staff members to work remotely as concerns over the spread of coronavirus continue to mount.

Microsoft directed employees in the Puget Sound and Bay Area to work from home March 4 through March 25.

Microsoft Executive Vice President of Operations Kurt DelBene said in a statement that the company would still expect “essential” employees, such as data center or retail workers, to come in to work.

DelBene said Microsoft is “continuously monitoring the situation and adjusting guidance as appropriate,” adding it will continue to implement CDC guidelines for sanitizing facilities.

Microsoft also noted that it will continue to pay its vendors and hourly employees even if they are not on-site. “We recognize the hardship that lost work can mean for hourly employees,” president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post. Smith added the decision “will ensure that, in Puget Sound for example, the 4,500 hourly employees who work in our facilities will continue to receive their regular wages even if their work hours are reduced.”

Google and Twitter are reportedly offering the same to their hourly workers, and Twitter chief human resources officer Jennifer Christie said March 2 the company was directing its roughly 5,000 employees to work from home. “While this is a big change for us, we have already been moving towards a more distributed workforce that’s increasingly remote… We’re a global service and we’re committed to enabling anyone, anywhere to work at Twitter,” Christie stated.

Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, said March 6 it was directing all Bay Area employees to work remotely. Facebook canceled its annual F8 conference, originally scheduled for May 6-8, over fears of the virus spreading. Google also canceled its yearly I/O developers conference, which was scheduled to take place May 12-14 at its Mountain View headquarters.

Amazon directed employees to work from home from March 5 through the end of the month. An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, “we continue to work closely with public and private medical experts to ensure we are taking the right precautions and have implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees, delivery and transportation partners at our sites around the world.”

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