According to Bloomberg, in China,
“thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, working from home is no longer a privilege, it’s a necessity.”
While factories, shops, hotels and restaurants are warning about plunging foot traffic that is transforming city centers into ghost towns, behind the closed doors of apartments and suburban homes, thousands of businesses are trying to figure out how to stay operational in a virtual world.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to test working from home at scale,” said Alvin Foo, managing director of Reprise Digital, a Shanghai ad agency with 400 people that’s part of Interpublic Group. “Obviously, not easy for a creative ad agency that brainstorms a lot in person.” It’s going to mean a lot of video chats and phone calls, he said.
The cohorts working from home are about to grow into armies. At the moment, most people in China are still on vacation for the Lunar New Year. But as Chinese companies begin to restart operations, it’s likely to usher in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.
That means a lot more people trying to organize client meetings and group discussions via videochat apps, or discussing plans on productivity software platforms like WeChat Work or Bytedance’s Slack-like Lark.
The vanguards for the new model of scattered employees are the Chinese financial centers of Hong Kong and Shanghai, cities with central business districts that rely on hundreds of thousands of office workers in finance, logistics, insurance, law and other white-collar jobs.
One Hong Kong banker said he’s going to extend an overseas vacation, as he can work from anywhere with a laptop and a phone.
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