The world’s largest home-office trial is on the way

Beijing time february 3, in the context of the outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, working from home is no longer a privilege, but a necessary measure. Major Internet companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have launched a post-holiday home-office mechanism to prevent the spread of the outbreak. People staying behind closed doors in their homes have caused a sharp drop in traffic in the city centre, turning the city into an empty city, prompting factories, shops, restaurants and hotels to issue warnings about the plunge in traffic. In response, thousands of companies are also trying to figure out how to maintain operations in a virtual world.

According to the notice issued by Tencent and Ali, the home office mechanism was launched on February 3-7, and the work was tentatively scheduled for February 10th (the 17th month of the month). Baidu said in a statement that it had decided to extend the Chinese holiday and arrange for employees to work from home in response to the outbreak, and postponed its fourth-quarter results, which were scheduled for February 7, until February 27.

The world's largest home-office trial is on the way

The world’s largest home office experiment

“This provides a great opportunity for us to experiment with working from home on a large scale,” says Fu Chuanzhi, managing director of Reprise Digital, a Shanghai-based advertising agency. “

The home-office community is about to develop into an army. Many Chinese are still in the New Year holiday, but as Chinese companies resume operations, it is likely to kick off one of the world’s largest home-office trials. This means that more people will organize customer meetings and panel discussions through video chat apps, or discuss plans on productivity software platforms such as Enterprise WeChat and ByteDance’s Flybook.

So which Chinese cities will be at the forefront of a new model of home-based office? China’s financial hubs Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as cities with central business districts that rely on hundreds of thousands of finance, logistics, insurance, legal and other white-collar workers.

A Hong Kong banker says he will extend his overseas holidays because he can use his laptop and mobile phone to work anywhere. Others said they would use the time, which is often used to entertain clients, to clear long-standing travel expenses. One person said he had shifted his focus to business in Southeast Asia.

“No one’s going to have a meeting, and my schedule is empty,” says Jeffrey Broer, a corporate consultant. ‘。 “

One of the most disturbing factors for employees is the impact of the rapidly changing virus outbreak, which causes business directives to change every day.

Tiko Mamuchashvili, a senior event planner at the Hyatt Hotel in Beijing, was due to work on Friday but was told the holiday was extended until February 3, and then was told to work from home for two days. A few days later, the directive was extended to 10 February. She had to report her whereabouts to her department every morning and whether she had a fever.

“Usually, it’s a little uncomfortable to go to work after a holiday, but it’s even more unusual to get a temporary notice to work from home,” she says. “

Some managers worry that leaving the office to work from home will reduce productivity, but there is evidence that the opposite may be true. A 2015 study by Stanford University found that call center workers at Ctrip, a Chinese travel company, increased productivity by 13 percent when they worked from home because of a more comfortable and focused work environment.

Co-office space is under threat

While the virus outbreak is likely to test the home-office mechanism on a larger scale, it poses an existential threat to another new business model, co-working space. In recent years, with the rental of office buildings skyrocketing and technology start-ups springup, there has been a lot of co-office space in China’s big cities.

“It’s going to be a very difficult time, ” says Dai Jianjin, co-founder of Bee Plus, a co-office space in China, which employs 300 people.

Mr. Dai said the outbreak had delayed the opening of a new office space in Beijing, making it almost impossible for him and others in the industry to work from home. If no customer is willing to work up close in the actual office space, then the co-office space will die. “The core of the office space is the community, where people come together, and it’s irreplaceable for online interaction and connectivity. He said.

For many businesses, instructing office workers to work from home solves only some of the problems. For many companies that rely on factories, logistics companies, and retail stores, they also face disruption.

Startups are helpless

For Casety, the phone case maker, 2020 is expected to be the best year ever. The Hong Kong company had more than 150 employees by the end of December, aiming to double sales this year.

However, the spread of the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan led to the closure of Chinese factories that make products for Casetify, prompting Casetify to require most of its employees to work from home. A new store at Thetyify’s airport has been empty, sending sales plummeting in Hong Kong.

“In any case, operations must continue. Casetify CEO Wu Peixuan said. He works in a notebook at home with his wife and 9-month-old son.

Casetify has 30 days of extra inventory, but Mr Wu says he doesn’t have a Plan B if the plant doesn’t reopen soon. Not just Casetify, but thousands of other companies in China and around the world face the same dilemma.

Even for businesses that can operate over the Internet and mobile phones, the virus outbreak means they may not have much business to do. Initial public offerings and industry transactions have been suspended, bankers said. In the first 30 days of this year, transactions were only half as high as a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The worst days are yet to come,” Ting Lu, an analyst at Nomura Securities, said in a note. “

Although statistics show that the new coronavirus is not as deadly as SARS, it has infected more people and is spreading at a rate that is fueling panic. Warwick McKibbon, a professor of economics at the Australian National University, believes a large part of the economic impact of the outbreak is likely to come from changes in “human psychology”.

He said SARS cost the global economy $40 billion, and the damage caused by the new coronavirus would be three or four times that of SARS. “Panic seems to be the biggest burden on the economy, not death. He thought.

Many companies in China’s services sector are struggling as factories close and workers work from home. China’s service sector is now bigger than it was at the time of the SARS outbreak, with its contribution to the economy rising from 41 per cent in 2002 to 53 per cent. But without customers, many businesses have uncertain prospects.

Nomura also noted that most of the popular films are scheduled to premiere during the New Year holiday, but have now been postponed. Some companies have turned to the Internet to maintain customer loyalty, hoping to withstand the outbreak.

The gym’s closed.

Shanghai gym owner Fenix Chen had planned to close his gym for three days during the Spring Festival, but has postponed the opening until February 10, as recommended by the government.

“In Shanghai, most people basically stay at home and avoid going to public places, ” he said. ” “

So he encouraged students to exercise at home and posted a video of the instructions online. “Whether they can maintain their exercise habits is just as important to our business after the outbreak.” He said. (Author/Rain)