Microsoft is giving workers 3 additional months of paid parental leave to help them deal with repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak. The global pandemic has caused extended school closures for millions of students all over the world. Microsoft is hoping to alleviate some of the pressure parents are facing.
Parents who work for Microsoft have flexibility over when and how to use their extra time. They can take the additional paid leave over one long stretch or in smaller increments. The tech giant has named its generous program the “12-Week Paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leave.”
Today, UNESCO estimates that COVID-19 is affecting over 90 percent of the global student population in some way. That means working parents to 1.6 billion children in 188 countries are having to navigate many unexpected challenges.
Cash-rich Tech Companies Giving Sacrificially
Multiple U.S. states have already extended school closures beyond initial measures. So far, 19 states have officially shut down in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year, including Washington state, where Microsoft is headquartered.
By moving forward with its policy, Microsoft is raising the bar for how other employers can support their team members in creative ways. Last month, Facebook announced that it would give $1,000 to each one of its 45,000 employees. The social media powerhouse will also continue to pay hourly and contract workers their full paychecks despite many of them having reduced hours.
Google and Twitter have followed suit, but Amazon is in hot water over concerns the company has not handled cases well in certain areas. Those in warehouses and distribution facilities are especially frustrated after learning that Amazon leaders failed to inform workers of positive COVID-19 cases in 10 warehouses.
Teleconferencing Enjoying the Spotlight
The coronavirus has disrupted many industries and companies. However, shelter-in-place orders have created massive demand for certain types of products and services.
One of the most obvious benefactors of the outbreak has been teleconferencing platforms. Companies like Zoom and Houseparty have witnessed tremendous growth over the last several weeks. San Francisco-based Houseparty was downloaded 2 million times in one week in March alone, compared to having 100,000 downloads per week a month before.
Zoom has only recently become a leader in the virtual chat space. The company is now valued at over $40 billion and has tens of millions of active users. It’s evident that this is teleconferencing’s time to shine.
Other Tech Business Models Seeing Growth
Outside of teleconferencing, there are other types of remote services on the rise. E-signature companies like DocuSign and PandaDoc are also benefiting from stay-at-home orders. As companies figure out how to conduct business as usual, they need ways to sign official documents quickly and securely.
Telemedicine is also skyrocketing as people look to consult medical professionals from the comforts of their homes. Teledoc shares are up 75 percent in 2020, and daily visits were at an all-time high in March. The company reported that they had nearly 15,000 visit requests per day, which far exceeded demand in peak flu season.
As some tech businesses soar and others flounder, time will reveal who is still standing when we get to the other side of this turbulent period. The only thing that is certain right now is uncertainty. However, companies like Microsoft are helping make things a little bit easier on families.