For many Chinese white collar workers trapped inside their homes due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been a miraculously chaotic day on February 3. Many companies have experienced communication breakdowns while working remotely using enterprise software platforms including Alibaba’s DingTalk and Tencent’s WeChat Work.
Take WeChat Work for example. Weibo users complained about the severe time delay on WeChat Work. “It’s been an hour and we still can’t enter the video conference function.”
One Weibo user tagged the official account of WeChat and reported, “WeChat Work collapsed. After a while, someone kept falling out of the meeting and couldn’t get in again, and it completely crashed if we re-set the meeting… I thought it was me, but then it’s the same if someone else hosted the meeting.”
As for Alibaba’s DingTalk, multiple systemic bugs troubled users including unsent and unread messages. DingTalk then replied on February 3 saying, “At 9 o’clock this morning, the first working day of the new lunar year, the morning meetings of a massive number of enterprises and organizations need to be prepared, and a large number of live meetings were launched at the same time. The system was temporarily restricted. We have proceeded with emergency measures and it has now fully recovered.”
Remote work products have long been a necessity of the internet era. Back in 2003 when SARS broke out, an Alibaba employee was diagnosed with the disease, and over 500 people including Jack Ma had to be quarantined at home. During the 12 days of quarantine, all of Alibaba’s employees had to rely on a relatively primitive remote work network.
In this sense, the coronavirus outbreak stands as a test for all the remote work products developed by different tech companies. Current trends indicate that remote work will gradually evolve from an emergency measure to a common collaboration tool even after the coronavirus crisis.