- The Seattle area is on high alert over the coronavirus and the large tech companies located there have asked their employees to work from home.
- As many as 80% of the tech employees who participated in a poll on anonymous chat app Blind said they were currently working from home.
- And in another poll, 60% said their productivity wasn’t being impacted thanks to the virus.
- But there are concerning signs that the worst is yet to come in the workplace. For instance, people of Asian descent are at increased risk for being stigmatized.
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Over 2,000 tech workers polled by anonymous chat app Blind indicate widespread concern about catching the coronavirus from their workplaces.
The poll consisted of 2,068 people who work at Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Expedia, LinkedIn or Uber. Blind does not collect the identities of workers but it does verify that they have corporate email addresses at whichever employer they claim.
Over 80% of respondents who worked at Microsoft, Expedia and LinkedIn said they were working from home thanks to the outbreak of the coronovirus. At 76%, almost as many Amazon workers in this poll said the same. And a large number of workers polled from companies headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area are working from home, too: 58% of Uber employees polled; 55% of Facebook employees, and 34% of Google employees.
Amazon and Facebook have each confirmed a case of the virus in Seattle. They have shut down certain office locations, GeekWire reported, and advised employees in the region area to work from home.
Microsoft has not confirmed cases as of yet but has told employees in Seattle and San Francisco to work from home in accordance with guidance from King County health officials, where Microsoft is located. Kings County has confirmed 31 cases of the virus and nine deaths, most of them residents from the LifeCare nursing home.
The majority of tech workers polled said they were fairly satisfied with the measures their companies are taking to keep them safe. The two least satisfied groups, based on this limited poll of a tiny fraction of their workforces, worked at Google and Uber, at 41% and 50% respectively. Google and Uber were not immediately available for comment, but Google has now asked all employees in Washington state to work from home, as well.
In another poll of just under 6,000 people on Blind, not restricted to specific tech companies, about 70% said that the coronavirus made them very or somewhat hesitant to go into their offices to work and their fear of working in an office is rising.
No harm to productivity
The biggest bright spot: given the work-from-home instructions, limits on travel and cancellations of major tech conferences, about 60% of those nearly 6,000 polled said that the virus has not significantly impacted their productivity.
We’ll see if that feeling holds. The work-from-home mandate in Seattle will continue until March 25 for Microsoft and March 31 for other offices. LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft but based in the Bay Area, has also told its employees to work from home.
As of March 5, San Francisco’s health department was reporting two confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Should that number rise, it is likely that more companies in the Bay Area will ask their employees to work from home as well.
In fact, one well-known VC, Sequoia, wrote a memo today warning all startup founders that the virus could wreak havoc on their own employees’ productivity, particularly sales and marketing, and that they should brace for tough times ahead.
But perhaps the most concerning part is a third poll, taken by 7,311 respondents, about witnessing backlash to employees of Chinese in the wake of the coronavirus: 11% of respondents said they had witnessed such behavior.
The CDC was so concerned about people of Asian descent being stigmatized by the illness that it issued a warning about it. The glass-half full view shows that 88% have not witnessed such behavior, but this data suggests that companies, employees as well as friends and mental health professionals would benefit from increased awareness.
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