How to Do Business Without Any Other People

The Coronavirus Is Forcing Chinese Companies to Get Creative

by Eliza Carter

WFH doesn’t fix how to deliver a pizza. Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s now been over a month since China first alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) to several cases of pneumonia caused by a mysterious virus.

  • Since then, China has confirmed over 24,000 cases of coronavirus and almost 500 people have died.

The virus is making the day-to-day operations of many China-based companies nearly impossible…but they’re getting creative with solutions.
People are working remote

Employees for thousands of businesses with operations in China, including Google, Facebook, and Apple are working from home. The extra traffic caused office apps like Alibaba’s DingTalk and Tencent’s WeChat Work to crash on Monday.

  • Reprise Digital Managing Director (and Olympic brightside-looker) Alvin Foo told Bloomberg, “It’s a good opportunity for us to test working from home at scale.”
  • Some companies are requiring workers to report if they’re running temperatures.

Riding the remote work wave, video communications company Zoom’s stock is up more than 12% this week. CEO Eric Yuan said he was so inundated with calls, he had to shut off his phone.

But WFH doesn’t fix everything

Like how to deliver a pizza. The services industry now accounts for 53% of China’s economy and is being put in a difficult situation.

  • Meituan, Pizza Hut, and KFC are testing out “contactless delivery”—where the delivery worker leaves food in an agreed-upon area for the customer to pick it up.

Or…how to go to school or the gym. Some online education companies are offering free classes for students whose classes were suspended, while gyms are providing live group workouts via Douyin, China’s TikTok.

Bottom line: As companies restart their operations following the Lunar New Year, the coronavirus is “likely to usher in the world’s largest work-from-home experiment,” writes Bloomberg.

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