Big tech has been one of the sectors hit hard by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Many tech giants have been left with little choice but to temporarily shut down some of their offices and get staff to work from home instead. While it was expected office workers would be compensated when telecommuting, it's not been clear contract or other hourly workers like food-service and janitorial staff would be impacted.
To that end, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon have all pledged to pay all hourly workers impacted by coronavirus-related office closures, according to a report by Axios.
Remote work isn’t one-size-fits-all – Although much of the tech industry lends itself to remote work, the same can’t be said for hourly workers whose day-to-day responsibilities are contingent upon office facilities being open. In the past few weeks, many tech companies have announced temporary closures, production contraints, the cancellation of attendence at large conferences, and other measures designed to protect their employees from the coronavirus.
A thoughtful move from big tech – It’s great to see the big names in tech commit to the contract workers who help keep their companies running. The question, though, is how long they'll keep footing the bill should the coronavirus turn into a pandemic and the weeks of having to pay people turns into months.
At the end of the day, tech companies — like any other companies — are about making money. Paying people for work they haven't done isn't exactly in keeping with that ethos. It's great to see the biggest names in Silicon Valley feeling magnanimous, but it's hard not to worry their largesse will eventually run out.