The coronavirus epidemic has businesses across the company rethinking their Q2 strategies. Not only is the new disease dangerous, it’s highly transmissible. This means any workplace can easily become a petri dish given enough time.
To compensate for a reduction in workers, business owners should consider preparing their workplaces just in case. With the rapid spread of the disease, it may be safer to have a work-from-home plan in place. Tap or click to find out how you can prepare your business for the virus.
With so many businesses planning for the unexpected, tech companies are keeping a close watch for opportunities to help. And now, a constellation of industry leaders are offering free work-from-home tools to keep businesses up and running. Here’s what workers will have access to.
Tech companies announce their workplace productivity tools are free (for a limited time)
5 different tech companies have announced that premium fees on their productivity tools will be waived in light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The companies, which include Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Zoom and LogMeIn, all feature different tools that enable businesses to take their operations off-site. This goes in line with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that workers stay home during the peak of the epidemic.
The two biggest names, Google and Microsoft both announced updates to their respective productivity suites for businesses. Both Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365 will be enabling premium features for business subscribers for a limited time.
Both G Suite and Microsoft Office see extensive use in workplaces around the country. Tap or click to see which of these productivity suites is better.
On Google’s side of things, the company announced it would grant free access to “advanced” G Suite features like Hangouts Meet, which allows live-streamed meetings with up to 250 participants.
Ordinarily, these features would cost an additional $25 for G Suite users, but through July 1, all business and education users will get these features free.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai chimed in on Twitter with more details on the announcement.
We want to help businesses and schools impacted by COVID-19 stay connected: starting this week, we’ll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally. https://t.co/OWWF7s5jjR— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 3, 2020
In Microsoft’s case, the company is granting access to the premium E1 tier of Microsoft Teams, which allows for meetings of up to 10,000 participants and normally costs $8 per user.
According to reports from Business Insider, this 6-month free trial is expected to roll out globally, but will still require assistance from a Microsoft representative over the phone to set up.
This is likely so they can square away how many employees will be using the service, as well as what services those numbers may require.
On the homefront, consumer Office 365 users will get a free update to Microsoft Teams that lifts the cap on how many users can be part of a team. It also gives non-administrator accounts the ability to schedule and host conference calls. This update is planned to roll out March 10.
Cisco, LogMeIn and Zoom join the fray
Following Microsoft and Google’s announcement, three more companies announced they would be extending free services to workers left homebound by the virus. Cisco, LogMeIn and Zoom have each committed to providing premium-level subscription services at no charge to users.
Cisco announced that it would get rid of time restrictions on the free version of its Webex service. On top of that, it’s also allowing up to 100 participants for meetings, and included toll-free dial-in features that include a 90-day license for non-subscriber businesses.
With LogMeIn, the company is releasing “Emergency Remote Work Kits” for affected workers. These include remote access and conferencing tools, which will be available at no charge to non-subscribers for the next three months.
As for Zoom, the company is upgrading its digital infrastructure to support an influx free users. This traffic increase would normally put a strain on the free servers, so the upgraded performance is greatly appreciated.
All these changes come in light mass cancellations of industry events. of Microsoft and Google both canceled major events like the annual I/O Conference and MVP Summit due to coronavirus concerns.
Health officials are taking the outbreak seriously, so it’s a good thing tech companies are putting their money where their mouths are. Their products help our modern economy run, and in a crisis like this, they might be just what we need to keep it that way.