Google, Coinbase, and Twitter are all telling some employees to work from home this week amid the spread of coronavirus
Google has instructed its Dublin office to work from home on Tuesday as a "precautionary measure," after one of its employees reported flu-like symptoms, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider. The advertising giant isn't the only tech company to test such a policy, as Silicon Valley begins to adapt its practices around the coronavirus outbreak. So far, Twitter has recommended its 5,000 employees all begin working from home, while cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has asked that its employees who consider themselves susceptible to the flu also work from home.
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Most of Google's 8,000-strong office in Dublin, Ireland — the tech giant's European headquarters — have been told to work from home on Tuesday after a member of its staff reported flu-like symptoms. Other tech companies like Twitter and Coinbase are also following suit. Google stressed that the day-long measure was precautionary, and in accordance with the advice of medical experts. "We continue to take precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce, in accordance with the advice of medical experts, and as part of that effort we have asked our Dublin teams to work from home tomorrow," a Google spokesperson told Business Insider. COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has spread well outside its place of origin in Wuhan, China since its outbreak at the end of last year. The disease, which has infected around 88,000 people around the world, with the vast majority of cases in China, is now also disrupting businesses as multinational businesses reconsider their conferences, travel, and their employees' daily commutes. Google has been tightening up its policies after a Google employee tested positive for the coronavirus in Zurich last week. It has restricted its employee travel and cancelled Google Cloud's biggest event of the year as concerns around the outbreak grow. Other tech companies follow suit Precautionary work-from-home policies are now also being adopted among other tech companies, like Twitter and Coinbase. Twitter is now recommending that all employees around the world, nearly 5,000 in total, work from home. The company announced its recommendation out of an "abundance of caution" in a blog post on Monday, after it suspended all non-critical travel for employees and its CEO Jack Dorsey opted out of attending the SXSW conference in Austin later this month. "We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they're able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us — and the world around us," the post said. Dorsey is already a big proponent of remote work, and hinted that the company would be taking more steps to support a more global, remote workforce earlier this year. Twitter's blog post referred back to that announcement, noting, "while this is a big change for us, we have already been moving towards a more distributed workforce that's increasingly remote." Cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase also announced a similar measure, according to a document that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong linked to Twitter. "We're asking some employees to start working home this week," Armstrong tweeted. "Working from home is not a complete solution but it may help slow the growth of infections."
An update on COVID-19. We're asking some employees to start working from home this week.https://t.co/RJo1KfcpCAWorking from home is not a complete solution, but it may help slow the growth of infections. https://t.co/yy3gAwFNsT — Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) March 2, 2020
A linked document elaborates on Coinbase's updated policies. "Employees that are likely to get sick more easily or for whom getting sick would be particularly problematic should now work with their manager to move to 100% Work From Home (WFH)," Coinbase's communications document said. It also says that business travel will be restricted to "essential travel only," and travel to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Italy and South Korea will be completely restricted. Other Silicon Valley tech companies have yet to ask its employees to work from home, but they have instituted other measures to lessen the likelihood of infection spreading. Facebook is asking its employees to stop bringing guests to work, and a Gizmodo report says Amazon is putting on-site job interviews on hold. Meanwhile, Business Insider reported on Monday that some Microsoft employees don't feel that the company is doing enough to help employees stay safe amid the outbreak.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why it's so hard for planes to land on water
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With no passengers to transport, Silicon Valley's tech bus drivers are being paid to stay home. But it's unclear how long Google, Apple and Facebook will keep them on for the ride. (GOOG, GOOGL)
Shuttle drivers for Google, Apple, Facebook and more are being paid to stay home, but as...Shuttle drivers for Google, Apple, Facebook and more are being paid to stay home, but as contractors don't get a direct line to these tech companies, they're now relying on their employers and unions to fight for their wages. 'Sometimes we don't get a straight answer from our company': Drivers are worried that payments might stop if they're made to work from home into May and beyond. Tesla has flat-out refused to pay for its contracted drivers. For smaller tech companies, the future is even less certain. Are you a contract worker for a tech company? Contact this reporter using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. When Silicon Valley's army of techies work from home, so must the bus drivers who ferry them to their offices each day. But unlike the employees they transport, these drivers face a bumpy and uncertain road ahead. In more normal times the famous, and controversial, tech shuttles – a common sighting on the roads of the San Francisco Bay Area – play a vital role in keeping the Silicon Valley machine whirring. According to the most recent data from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, there are just over 1,000 shuttle buses criss-crossing the Bay Area every day. But right now the shuttles are nowhere to be seen. Instead they sit idly in depots and will likely do so for weeks, if not months, to come. As for the people who usually drive them, the future is a big unknown. Tech companies usually contract their drivers through companies such as WeDriveU and Hallcon – two popular bus services in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of right now, most of the tech companies have agreed to cover 100% of the compensation these drivers would normally be making through April. Tesla is the notable exception, having flat-out refused to cover any drivers' compensation. But after April, things become less clear, and drivers say the anxiety is compounded by the fact they don't have a direct line to the tech companies they drive for. Instead, they have to wait and hope their contractors can negotiate a continued income while they're made to stay home. "We all know these tech companies have money to pay us if they want to, but who knows how long this will last?" said one driver who regularly ferries Facebook employees to its Menlo Park, Calif. campus, and asked not to be identified. "Sometimes we don't get a straight answer from our company because it seems they are at the will of Facebook's needs and wants. Any issues we have, we try to bring up with the union." Teamsters Union represents many tech shuttle drivers in the Bay Area including Apple, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook. Google is the only major exception. The union says that the average wage for a tech company shuttle driver in the Bay Area is $30 an hour, and in many cases a smaller percentage is also paid for the hours in the day between commutes when drivers aren't on the road. This amount is still being covered during the pandemic, but the union says it's a detail that must be negotiated as the weeks go on and isn't guaranteed. "The company we've had the most trouble with is Apple," Stacy Murphy, business representative for the Teamsters 853 division, told Business Insider. The union says that Apple, which contracts its drivers in the Bay Area through Hallcon, agreed to pay drivers but was much slower than other companies to iron out the details, leading some of ther drivers to file for unemployment in the meantime for fear their wages wouldn't be covered. The union says that last Friday Apple agreed to expedite payments for the time drivers had spent at home so far, and that it had agreed to pay drivers through at least May 4. "We're working with all of our suppliers to ensure hourly workers such as janitorial staff are being paid during this difficult time," an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider. Google has agreed to pay its contracted workforce, including drivers, and will continue to do so through April, it told Business Insider. Meanwhile Amazon said its drivers will be paid for as long as they are made to work from home. "We continue to pay all hourly employees that support our offices around the world – from administrative functions to shuttle bus drivers to janitorial staff – during the time our employees who are able to work from home do so," said a spokesperson. "The outlook is very sad" As the biggest tech companies have continued to expand, so has their desire to use contractors and vendors. But these workers don't enjoy the same benefits and privileges of full-time employees. The bus drivers of Silicon Valley have spent more time in the spotlight than most tech contract workers, notably in 2013 and 2014 when they were the subject of protests against the continued gentrification of the San Francisco Bay Area. As a result, the city brought in more regulation of the shuttles. But this pandemic poses a much greater threat to job security, and if it keeps people working from home for much longer, drivers are concerned that they may lose their jobs. As a result they're relying on the unions to keep fighting for them. "I've wondered about my subcontracting company that works with Google," said one driver for Google who also spoke to Business Insider on the condition of anonymity. For these drivers, it's imperative that tech companies keep paying them – if the tech companies decided to stop paying, the bus companies that employ them are unlikely to cough up. "They have offered nothing to their drivers," the Google driver said of his subcontracting company. Some of the WeDriveU shuttle drivers said they were being given safety and procedural online training courses to complete at home, with deadlines, assigned by the company. Some higher-ranking employees such as supervisors are also still being paid to "get the basics in operation" ready for work to resume after the pandemic, as one described. "The outlook is very sad," said one driver who usually runs the Apple campus route to Cupertino. "We are getting training courses online, and I am getting to spend more time with my kids. But they are getting bored ... I can only hope for the best." These drivers are relying on Silicon Valley to keep supporting them. As soon as it stops, they will have to look for work elsewhere, or file for unemployment. "The future feels unpredictable, but for now my feet are flat on the ground," said another driver who usually transports Google employees on their 80-minute drive to the Mountain View campus in Calfornia. "It's a strange adjustment." More concerning still are the smaller tech companies, which unions are worried may not pay beyond the middle of April, potentially leaving many drivers unemployed. "Every day something changes," said Teamsters' Stacy Murphy. "We know the money's there but we're not taking it for granted. We're appreciative of any client that has stepped up." Are you a contract worker for a tech company? Contact this reporter using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or email (email@example.com).SEE ALSO: Google is fighting COVID-19 by monitoring location data in 131 countries. It's a reminder of how much info Google has about us and how easily the pandemic could blow up privacy. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A cleaning expert reveals her 3-step method for cleaning your entire home quickly
Apple CEO Tim Cook tells office employees to work from home as the company plans to reduce 'human density' in stores amid coronavirus outbreak
In a memo sent to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged some of the company's global...In a memo sent to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged some of the company's global office employees to work remotely this week amid the spread of the novel coronavirus. While the policy is only applicable to workers at Apple's offices, the company has also instituted new efforts to limit "human density" at its retail locations. Apple's decision to allow employees to work remotely mirrors decisions made by other tech companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Alphabet. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Apple CEO Tim Cook told office employees across the world can work from home as COVID-19, becoming the latest major tech company to allow remote work. In a memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg News, Cook offered employees at its global offices the opportunity to work from home for the upcoming week of March 9 to 13 "if your job allows." As Business Insider reported Friday, a source familiar with the matter said employees in Santa Clara Valley — the location of Apple's Cupertino headquarters, in the San Francisco Bay Area — had already been recommended to work from home. In the memo, Cook also said the company was working to reduce "human density and ensure those teams that are on-site can do their work safely and with peace of mind," Bloomberg reported. While the work-from-home option does not apply to workers at Apple's more than 500 global retail stores, the company said it would work to reduce the number of people in stores for Genius Bar appointments and at classes offered by the Cupertino, California-based company at its worldwide retail locations. The company previously enacted new measures in US stores meant to limit any spread of the virus such as the increased wipe-down of demo units, installing hand sanitizing stations, and increasing the number of cleaning staff at the stores. Apple in February temporarily shuttered its China retail locations to help limit the spread of the virus, though most locations have since re-opened. The work from home memo specifically applies to Apple employees in Santa Clara Valley and Elk Grove areas in California, Seattle, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK, Bloomberg reported. Apple has repeatedly advised employees who feel sick to remain home from work and encouraged virtual meetings over those that require travel, according to a previous Business Insider report. It also encouraged employees to regularly wash their hands and avoid touching their faces. According to Bloomberg News, Cook said employees would continue to receive their usual pay while working from home. The new directive comes amid reports that Apple's supply chain has taken a hit amid the coronavirus outbreak. The virus has had a major impact on the production of the iPhone, which is not expected to improve until at least the second quarter of 2020. Other companies like Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet have all announced similar policies, restricting travel and directing employees in some of their global offices to work from home. COVID-19 has infected more than 106,000 people and killed 3,600 others, mostly in China, though the disease is spreading globally. So far, at least 21 people have died in the US as a result while hundreds of cases have been confirmed. Cook called the virus "unprecedented event" and a "challenging moment," Bloomberg said. Read more: A seafood salesman accused of smuggling $7 million worth of endangered baby eels has been sentenced How coronavirus is upending corporate America Costco says coronavirus fears gave it a sales boost and stirred up 'crazy' demand Parents are struggling to cope as coronavirus worries shut down schools, leaving kids scared and confusedJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos reportedly just spent $165 million on a Beverly Hills estate — here are all the ways the world's richest man makes and spends his money
Telling employees to work from home. Bearing down on misinformation removal. Here is how the coronavirus...Telling employees to work from home. Bearing down on misinformation removal. Here is how the coronavirus is affecting the industry.