Tech firms cash in as office staff switch to working from home


Tech firms cash in as office staff switch to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic

Technology companies are cashing in as millions of office staff switch to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Workplace messaging services such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have reported a huge influx of customers, while video and audio conferencing apps such as Zoom and Discord are also becoming more popular. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to work remotely if possible. 

Home working: Workplace messaging services have reported a huge influx of customers, while video and audio conferencing apps are also becoming more popular

Home working: Workplace messaging services have reported a huge influx of customers, while video and audio conferencing apps are also becoming more popular

And the switch has been hailed by experts as a potentially pivotal moment, with some saying it could lead to permanent changes in the way businesses operate after the crisis. 

Slack says it has added 7,000 paying customers since the start of February, 40 per cent more than what it usually adds in three months. 

Stuart Templeton, its UK boss, said remote working had become even more vital now that many parents are looking after their children who have been sent home from school during the day. 

He said: ‘For too long, many people have had access to better technology in their personal lives than at work, so I do think there will be a lasting shift as a result of what’s happening now.’ 

Slack, which bills its technology as a replacement for internal office emails, listed on New York’s stock exchange last June. 

Slack's founders include boss Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson (pictured), a British software engineer who serves at the company's chief technology officer

Slack’s founders include boss Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson (pictured), a British software engineer who serves at the company’s chief technology officer

Founders include boss Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson, a British software engineer who serves at the company’s chief technology officer. 

Butterfield, 47, owns a 7.2 per cent stake worth a b o u t £ 714million, while Henderson, 39, owns 3 per cent worth £297million. 

Kelly Steckelberg, finance chief of video and audio conference service Zoom, also said usage of her company’s platform was up ‘pretty significantly’ since the coronavirus crisis erupted. 

The Chinese firm listed in New York last April and its shares have surged more than 94 per cent higher since the start of 2020. 

As the pandemic has increasingly forced people to stay indoors, Zoom has offered many of its features for free to new users including schools who want to teach pupils over the web. 

Microsoft’s Skype service has also seen a spike in usage, as workers seek to stay in touch with colleagues and family members from their homes. 

Teams, a rival service to Slack also owned by Microsoft, reportedly saw a record 44m people use its service this week. 

Jared Spataro, boss of Microsoft’s 365 office software, said it was a ‘turning point in the history of the way people work’. 

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