The tech industry is committed to playing a constructive role as the world grapples with COVID-19. The global pandemic has pushed businesses around the world into an unprecedented inflection point; everything from company culture to leadership to digital workspace experiences is being put to the test.
Where travel restrictions have gutted the ability to accomplish several tasks, massive workforces have started working remotely, testing the abilities of workplace software. This has disrupted businesses around the globe leading to economic fallout.
Amidst all this the global tech industry, in its attempts to put reins on the virus’s spread, is working to make sure users have all the required tools, guidance, and information to work remotely without having to compromise the structure of organizations they are working for.
Here’s a roundup of the tools some tech companies are offering for free to stay afloat during the outbreak.
Underscoring the huge demand for work-at-home during the pandemic, Microsoft has announced a six-month free trial to the premium version of Microsoft Teams. This business chat cum collaboration application is part of Office 365.
At Microsoft, the health and safety of employees, customers, partners and communities is our top priority. By making Teams available to all for free for six months, we hope that we can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier. https://t.co/e8aaocLzYD
— JP Courtois (@JP_Courtois) March 3, 2020
The application is one of the most popular telecommuting tools and seems pretty well suited for the ongoing health crisis. Businesses and companies that take advantage of the free trial will gain access to application features not available in the free plan.
This also includes better access to scheduling and meeting features. Other than this, users can take advantage of the 1TB of storage and another feature that lets you record meetings.
During the outbreak, Teams has flourished, reaching 44 million daily users by March 18 up from 32 million on March 11.
Almost a month ago, Google announced that in its attempt to aid the coronavirus relief effort, it has made premium Hangouts Meet features free for all G Suite customers.
In the blog post, the company detailed that hundreds of thousands of students were already using Hangouts Meet video conferencing and Google Classroom to continue remote schooling amid coronavirus-related closures.
The new features will allow individuals and businesses to conduct meetings with up to 250 participants per call and live streaming to 100,000 viewers within a domain. They will also have the ability to record and save calls to Google Drive.
These premium features will be made available to G Suite and G Suite for Education customers, including the G Suite Basic, Business, and Nonprofit tiers. Normally, the tech giant charges $13 extra per user per month. For now, the services will be free until July 1.
We want to help businesses and schools impacted by COVID-19 stay connected: starting this week, we'll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally. https://t.co/OWWF7s5jjR
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 3, 2020
During the pandemic, Zoom, a teleconferencing application typically used by businesses, has become a hot new way for people to interact with each other. According to Sensor Tower, it is the world’s 2nd most downloaded mobile app, standing behind TikTok.
Zoom is suddenly everywhere. The company has reported explosive growth in the past few weeks.
Even though the company already offers a pretty reliable free version of the videoconferencing software, it claims to have increased the reliability and overall capacity of the free tier. According to Zoom CEO Eric Yun,
We are ensuring maximum reliability amid any capacity increases, as uptime is paramount. It’s my responsibility as Zoom’s CEO — and Zoom’s unique responsibility as a company — to do everything in our power to support those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak by committing our reliable technology, expanded access, and agile customer service.
The application has seemingly replaced services like Google Hangouts Microsoft’s Skype as people’s go-to video call platform.
Cisco Webex, an American web conferencing and videoconferencing application, has been the backbone of connecting Chinese users to their global workplaces for a while now.
According to the company’s recent blog post, its China-based Webex users have increased as much as 22 times since the outbreak. In contrast users in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore also increased 4 to 5 times during the same period.
The company has expanded the abilities of its free Webex offer globally. The new features include unlimited usage without time restriction, meetings with up to 100 participants, and toll-free dial-in features. Businesses that are not already customers will also get a 90-day free license.
Webex has also opened a free sign-up and service in response to the virus outbreak, drawing 240,000 new subscriptions in the first 24-hours. The platform is currently mirroring the growth by Zoom.
Another software promoting the virtual workspace business and providing free tools is GoToMeeting by LogMeIn. The company, in a blog post last month, detailed that it has seen a significant spike in traffic from different regions of the world.
Hence, LogMeIn has announced ‘Free Emergency Remote Work Kits for Health Care Providers, Educational Institutions, Municipalities & Non-Profit Organizations’ starting from 28th February.
These emergency kits will be available without cost for 3 months and will “include solutions for meetings and video conferencing, webinars and virtual events, IT support and management of remote employee devices and apps, as well as remote access to devices in multiple locations.”
Wrapping it up
The tech industry as a whole is trying to provide a sound technological infrastructure for workers suddenly removed from their physical offices.
However, one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses in this situation is getting the work done and not losing social connections. This has had a major effect on the way collaboration and communication takes place.
Nevertheless, with a combined effort being put into making things easier for individuals and organizations around the world, things will fall in place sooner than later.