Enlarge /. Google's headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, is currently largely empty as the 8,000 employees there have been instructed to work remotely.
The proliferation of the novel corona virus is beneficial for technology companies, which no other argument for remote work could seem, since Google, Facebook and other employees are asking them to stay at home during their work.
These guidelines are looking more and more like reasonable precautions as Amazon confirmed this week that a Seattle-based employee has tested positive for the virus. The employee apparently went home sick on February 25 and has not returned to the office since. Two Amazon employees based in Italy have also been infected with the virus.
King County, Washington, home to Seattle and its tech-heavy suburbs of Kirkland, Redmond, and Bellevue, is the site of COVID-19's largest U.S. outbreak to date. Microsoft, which is also based in the Seattle region, now enables employees in its offices in Seattle or San Francisco to work remotely at least until March 9.
Google, which has historically not supported telecommuting on a large scale, ordered most of the 8,000 employees in its Dublin office to stay at home and work remotely this week after an employee reported "flu-like symptoms" on Monday.
Twitter has also made great strides in teleworking this week in the light of COVID-19, and "strongly encouraged" all employees worldwide to work from home if they are able to do so, in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea prescribe. And Facebook has reportedly not only canceled the F8 developer conference, but also told employees that they can work from home without obtaining management approval.
The virus was first discovered in Wuhan in January. By the end of this month, the Chinese authorities had banned entry to or from Wuhan and several nearby cities. Americans who were returned from Wuhan during the outbreak were quarantined, but the disease has spread, albeit more slowly, to the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Large companies, including large technology companies, also initially restricted their employees when traveling to or from China, and later expanded their travel restrictions. This week, Google stopped all international travel for its employees and canceled the I / O developer conference planned for May.