China workers switch to online
RESPONSE: VIRUS SHUTTERS FACTORIES AND SHOPS
Work-from-home apps see record users telecommuting in face of closures.
Virus phobia has sent hundreds of millions of Chinese flocking to online working options, with schools, businesses, government departments, medical facilities and even museums and zoos wrapping themselves in the digital cloud for protection.
China remains in crisis mode weeks after the epidemic exploded, with much of the country shut down and the government pushing work-from-home policies to prevent people gathering together.
That has been a boon for telecommuting platforms developed by Chinese tech giants such as
Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, which have suddenly leapt to the ranks of China’s most-downloaded apps, leaving them scrambling to cope with the increased demand.
Tencent said its office collaboration app WeChat Work has seen a year-on-year tenfold increase in service volume since February 10, when much of the country officially came back from a virus-extended Lunar
New Year holiday.
Alibaba’s DingTalk has observed the most traffic in its fiveyear existence, company officials told state media, with around 200 million people using it to work from home.
Huawei said its WeLink platform is experiencing a 50-fold increase, with more than one million new daily users coming on board.
Eric Yang, chief executive of Shanghai-based iTutorGroup, which operates a range of online courses, said his company’s business has surged 215%.
“We just helped an art education school open online painting classes and are also helping another music school to open virtual classes,” Yang said.
“More kids in third- and fourthtier cities are increasingly taking our online courses because of the outbreak. In the past, most users came from first-tier cities (such as Beijing and Shanghai).”
The migration received an implicit endorsement from President Xi Jinping who gave a pep talk on national TV to medical staff in the epicentre city of Wuhan via Huawei WeLink.
The virus, which has killed more than 1 100 people and infected nearly 45 000, has shuttered factories across the country.
More kids are taking online courses because of the virus