Putting health and safety above mid-term economic growth, the world’s biggest remote work experiment has been unleashed by COVID-19.

On a recent earnings call, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang told investors that, while a tremendous challenge for society, Coronavirus also gives people a “chance to try a new way of living and new way of work.”

As Chinese New Year approached its end, Alibaba’s DingTalk app quickly became the most downloaded free iOS app in China, and has remained #1 for the last few weeks. On February 3rd alone, users from over 10 million corporations used DingTalk, now leveraging its team chat groups, org charts and teleconferencing features. Companies can also track attendance and overtime hours automatically through the app.

Tencent has also seen dramatic growth in demand for its work tools. Now among the top five most downloaded free iOS apps in China, WeChat Work and video-conferencing app Tencent Meeting are serving millions of firms.

After recording a tenfold increase on February 10th (when many companies and schools resumed work), WeChat Work is now used by over 2.5 million companies, covering 60 million corporate users.

Compared with their foreign peers, like Slack, Chinese apps have jumped on “China Speed” to meet the unique demands of Chinese employees.

Released by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, corporate messaging app Feishu
 (which offers file-sharing and document-editing capabilities) has now released a “health management” platform, allowing workers to log location and daily temperature.

Staying home and avoiding contact is crucial. And every person counts. But in the interim, our ability to build and iterate on fully digitized platforms for the future of work is a forced opportunity like no other. And as I’ve said before, never waste a crisis….

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