As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, countries have been closing their borders and ordering everyone to stay indoors to flatten the curve. This drastic indeterminate pause on life has brought equally drastic changes to the world. Once busy streets are now empty and quiet, the hectic morning commute disappeared, and even the water is clearing up from the reduced pollution with everyone staying at home. Possibly the biggest change comes from the sudden mass shift of the working world to working at home. Because of this shift, there has been a sudden upswing of video-conference app use.
Work from Home – The New Norm
With companies making people work from home around the world, video conference app downloads increased dramatically. Video-conference providers saw an increase in usage since the end of Lunar New Year celebrations in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Following the spread of COVID-19, the increase in video-conferencing moved from Asia to the Middle East to Africa and then to Europe, especially in Italy where the number of cases skyrocketed.
Microsoft, Google, and Zoom Doing Their Part
Many platforms exist for video conferencing such as Skype, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams, all owned by Microsoft, Google Hangouts Meet, Amazon Chime, Cisco’s Webex, and Zoom among others that include personal alternatives like Facebook Messenger or FaceTime. And the companies are more than aware of the high demand and have been acting appropriately.
Microsoft’s Teams usage rose by 500% near the end of January in China and from January to February, there was an additional 200% rise in Teams app usage leading to the company offering its services for free for six months and removed the limits on its free version. Zoom use began increasing near the end of January and in response, Zoom lifted its time limits and gave users unlimited access. Cisco’s Webex saw the 22% increase in use after the Lunar New Year mentioned earlier and offered unlimited access to the service subscription free in 52 countries.
Zoom, Microsoft and Cisco made these decisions to offer premium features for free on their apps knowing that people have no other choice but to work from home during the global health crisis and worked to ensure users high quality and accessible software. Companies are also using this increased demand as an opportunity to improve their services as well as the growth and retainment of customers.
The Ups and Downs of the Coronavirus
With the world practicing social distancing to flatten the curve, there have been unprecedented drops and rises in day-to-day activities. One of the most impactful drops has been in the economy with record breaking falls worldwide. But for video-conference service providers, the high demand has seen a rise in value for the company’s stocks. For example, Zoom’s stock value increased by 50% during a time while the majority of the stock market crashed hard and fast.
The Lasting Effects of COVID-19
Social distancing is only temporary, but these drastic global changes may affect the way the world works.