It has become increasingly evident – especially over the course of this week – that we’re witnessing something truly unparalleled, even if only in regards to the worldwide response.
Twitter has become the latest tech giant to force its employees to work from home in the wake of the coronavirus, the outbreak that graduated to pandemic status earlier this week.
Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s HR chief, said in a recent blog update that Twitter is moving beyond its guidance of strongly encouraging work from home (issued on March 2) to informing staffers that they must work from home.
Christie said the microblogging platform will continue to pay contractors and hourly workers that are not able to perform their responsibilities from home while the work-from-home guidance is in effect. Twitter will also reimburse employees for expenses that come as a result of setting up their home offices as well as additional childcare costs incurred when their normal daycare closes due to the coronavirus.
“We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times,” Christie said.
Twitter’s response is par for the course but Christie is right – these are unprecedented times, indeed.
One of the first stories I wrote about the coronavirus was how it had the potential to demonstrate to tech event organizers and attendees that big trade shows are no longer relevant or necessary. That was exactly one month ago today but it might as well have been years ago considering how much has happened between then and now.
Tech conferences continue to drop off the calendar en masse, the latest casualties including Google I/O and E3. Cities are banning gatherings involving crowds of 1,000 or more. Companies large and small are forcing employees to work from home, some for the first time ever in their professional careers. Cruise lines are suspending operations. Schools are sending students home and having them submit classwork online.
Sports are also feeling the crunch. Most major college conferences have canceled their conference basketball tournaments. The NCAA has banned fans from attending March Madness games. MLS suspended its season for 30 days. Even the NBA suspended its regular season after a player tested positive for the virus.
It’s dizzying, really, and nearly impossible to keep up with as cancellations and suspensions pour in at a constant clip. Worse yet, some believe this is only the beginning and that things could get far worse before we turn the corner.
We saw a similar level of panic set in among some with Y2K although admittedly, that was a totally different scenario. How this will all play out in the long term is still up in the air but it’s a fascinating case study on a number of levels, if nothing else.