Work-from-home software firms are struggling to meet demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak

In context: The coronavirus’ (COVID-19) impact on the tech industry cannot be overstated. While the virus itself has a relatively low mortality rate, it’s led to the cancelation of major trade shows, disruptions to global supply lines, and an increased number of workers choosing to stay home from work and telecommute.

There are pros and cons to that trend, of course, but work-from-home software companies are benefiting quite a bit. As you might expect, in order for workers to get their jobs done away from the office, they need specialized tools. As such, these individuals have turned to communication and collaboration software like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom.

Indeed, demand for this software has increased so much that some companies are struggling to keep up. Video communication platform Zoom has become the most downloaded business app on the iOS App Store, and the service has suffered outages as a result. Leadership is doing its best to increase data center capacity, according to The Register, but even that hasn’t been enough to maintain consistent service.

Downtime or not, though, Zoom’s financial status has improved considerably, with share prices temporarily increasing from a modest $68 in early January all the way up to $125 last week. As of writing, prices have settled in at $106, which is still quite the improvement. To help facilitate this business boom, Zoom has reportedly begun to remove some of its free trial limitations for workers in China and Italy (and, apparently, some parts of the US).

Slack and Microsoft have also run into downtime issues due to an inability to manage demand, which is no surprise. Microsoft Teams, as well as its Office 365 software suite, were both incredibly popular even before the COVID-19 outbreak, and the same can be said for Slack. Like Zoom, these firms are doing their best to mitigate downtime and keep their customers online during this critical time period, but it hasn’t been easy.

We’ll be curious to see what the broader impact of this remote work push will be throughout the world. Will corporations decide that this new “normal” (despite some service interruptions) is actually preferable to requiring their employees to come into the office? We can’t say for sure at this time, but if the COVID-19 outbreak drags on long enough, we’ll probably get an answer in the coming months.

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