As the deadly coronavirus continues to send shivers down the spines of people all over the world, Google has announced the temporary closure of its offices in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in China, tech companies have been making frantic efforts to protect staff and also sensitize members of the public on how to avoid getting infected. Google confirmed this move to The Verge on Wednesday in a move that will affect all its offices in China.
A spokesperson for the tech giant said the company plans to keep its offices closed in accordance with the safety measures put in place by the Chinese government. As a result of this, temporary business travel restrictions on flying to mainland China and Hong Kong. Furthermore, the company has advised its employees currently in China as well as those who have families in that country to return home as soon as possible to work from home for a minimum of 14 days from the date of their departure.
The coronavirus, which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan has led to the death of at least 132 people with confirmed cases of more than 6,000 people. Google’s investment in China is substantial, which makes it easy to understand why the company had to take this measure to protect its staff.
Apple and Facebook have both taken similar measures to protect its staff and ensure everyone one of them is safe. On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced his company’s plans on restrictions. The company said it has closed down at least one retail store in China and is measuring the temperature of its employees regularly, while aggressively cleaning office spaces.
This is a trend [companies closing down offices in China and nearby countries] that may continue until conditions improve.
In other Google news, the company is reportedly working on a new messaging app for business that will unify all the functions of its standalone apps. This development could help the company compete more actively with its biggest rival Microsoft as well as a couple of other big names in the industry, The Information reports citing people familiar with the story.
Currently, the app which includes Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat is being tested internally at Google. CEO of Google’s cloud unit Thomas Kurian, reportedly tested discussed the new app at a conference that was held sometimes in the middle of this month. The discussion was said to have been held with salespeople and business partners, the two people familiar with the story told The Information.
The upcoming app will fall under the G Suite family of productivity tools, and is being designed to compete against Slack and Microsoft Teams. For the records, Google has many chat apps, which tend to confuse a lot of us. However, this latest effort from the company should help in a lot of ways.