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Tech

Microsoft is Reportedly Planning a Six-Phase Re-opening of Its Offices in US on January 19, 2021

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(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

With Covid-19 Crisis hardly showing any sign of slowing down, many tech giants like Google and Apple have extended their work from option until next year.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 10:56 AM IST

Microsoft has reportedly chosen January 19, 2021, as the date for reopening its US offices. According to The Verge, the tech giant is planning a “hybrid workplace” for a six-phase reopening of its offices. “Stage six will be when offices are ready to fully reopen for employees to return to work,” the report said on Friday. The six stages are: Closed; Mandatory working from home; Working from home strongly encouraged; Soft opening; Open with restrictions and finally, Open. “In the US, we have established that the earliest possible date for Stage 6 is now January 19, 2021,” read an internal memo from Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s head of corporate strategy.

“Our goal for Stage 6 is to return to normal operations while being prepared to back off to an earlier stage if a significant resurgence in the virus occurs,” the memo added. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021 while Apple employees will not return to offices until early next year. With the COVID-19 pandemic hardly showing any sign of slowing down, Google said it would allow employees to work from home till the middle of next year if their roles permit.”To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021, for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees, according to a CNBC report.

In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now. While Amazon and Apple expect their employees to return to their respective offices in January, most other tech companies have also allowed work from home till the end of the year.


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Categories
Tech

Google to Extend Work From Home Policy for Employees Until July 2021 Amid Covid-19 Pandemic: Report

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google is the first tech company to extend its work from home policy to next summer due to the Covid-19 crisis.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 7:43 PM IST

Alphabet Inc’s Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among an internal group of top executives that he chairs, as per the report by the Wall Street Journal.

Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Google had earlier said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June this year, but most Google employees would likely work from home until the end of this year.


Categories
Tech

Google Expands Privacy Features For Employees on Company-Owned Devices

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The new privacy features on Google will include asset management protections, even if devices are lost or stolen, the tech giant said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 1, 2020, 11:03 AM IST

Google has expanded Androids commitment to employee privacy in Android 11, by bringing the privacy protections of the work profile to company-owned devices. Employees increasingly demand privacy from the technology they use every day, but employers often see privacy in opposition to enterprise data security.

Bringing privacy protections to company-owned devices means “IT can deploy the work profile to help protect employee privacy across their entire fleet, regardless if the device is personally or company-owned,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Since its debut in Android 5, the work profile has secured company data on personally-owned devices while preserving employee privacy.

In a recent survey by ESG research, 71 per cent of employees said they expect all personal information to remain private on work devices. This resistance to traditional full device management creates challenges for IT organizations. In fact, employee concern about privacy is the top reason mobile devices remain unmanaged by IT, according to IDC.

Google said that Android is committed to delivering simple, consistent privacy protections to its users. “Just as IT shouldn’t put company data at risk to enable mobile productivity, employees shouldn’t be asked to reveal private, personal data to their company,” it added. The new privacy features include asset management protections, even if devices are lost or stolen; personal usage policies such as restricting what apps employees can use, to keep device usage in compliance with corporate policy and hardware management.

IT can block an employee from using social media apps on a company-owned device, but in doing so, doesn’t need to know the other apps they use outside of work. “Now Android can help preserve employee privacy in the personal profile while enabling IT management of what employees can do with the personal profile,” informed Google.

The Android Management API will support these work profile enhancements in July, enabling customers and developers to try out these new features on the Android 11 Beta. Google also announced it is bringing Android 11’s new combination of strong personal privacy protections and robust asset management features to older Android devices, as far back as Android 8.


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Tech

Google, Facebook Likely to Face Revenue Slump As COVID-19 Weakens Demand For Digital Ads

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With consumers mostly at home and unemployment soaring, advertisers are slashing promotional spending in some cases, all the way to zero.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: April 28, 2020, 4:22 PM IST

Demand for digital advertising is shriveling after a decade of explosive growth amid the pandemic-fueled downturn. That could complicate things for Google and Facebook, who for the first time may have to contend with revenues that are actually shrinking.

With consumers mostly at home and unemployment soaring, advertisers are slashing promotional spending in some cases, all the way to zero. For Google and Facebook, who together account for 70% of the U.S. market for digital ads, that so far has translated into tighter restraints on spending without the layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs that publishers and other industries have already imposed.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has already told employees the company will curtail its hiring for the rest of the year and is considering deep cuts in its own marketing budget through 2020, according to internal communications obtained by CNBC that Google confirmed. Facebook warned last month that its business was already being squeezed by the advertising downturn, although it didn’t provide details. In countries hard-hit by the pandemic, it said messaging traffic was up 50% while voice and video calling had doubled, but added that it doesn’t make money on many of those services and that ad business had “weakened” in those regions.

So far, however, it’s not clear how badly the tech giants might be hit. Some of the early clues are expected this week when Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, and Facebook report their first-quarter financial results. But those results will only give a hint of the impact, given that the pandemic didn’t start to zap the global economy and ad budgets until late February.

That’s one reason analysts polled by FactSet are still predicting a 13% increase in Alphabet’s revenue from the same time last year and a 16% revenue increase in revenue for Facebook. The real test will come in the current April-June quarter, where analysts currently project roughly flat revenue for both companies. That could prove optimistic, though, given that airlines, hotels and other travel-related businesses typically spend heavily on marketing campaigns during the spring and summer.

With most travel frozen by the pandemic, Google and Facebook are likely to see huge sales declines unless the threat of COVID-19 subsides, said Edward Jones analyst David Heger. The good news for Google and Facebook is that digital ad spending can ramp back up as quickly as it declines since it doesn’t require the upfront planning necessary with traditional media.

That means companies might boost digital campaigns at the first sign of recovery, said Tony DiResta, a Washington, D.C., attorney who helps small and large companies promote their brands. Google, at least, has already been through this once as a public company. In the second quarter of 2009 during the Great Recession, its revenue growth slowed dramatically to just 3%, prompting it to reduce its workforce by about 400 employees during that year the only time the company has pared its payroll in its 21-year history.

Since then, Alphabet has added nearly 100,000 employees in a relentless expansion built upon Google’s Android mobile-phone software and other products it continued to develop during the previous downturn. This recession may look quite different. Google, Facebook, and the overall digital market are far larger than they were back then and potentially less nimble.

The digital industry has posted double-digit annual growth for a decade and was on track to hit about $125 billion in 2019 revenue, based on information compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which hasn’t released final numbers for the year.

For 2020, Magna Research predicts that digital-ad sales growth will slow to 4%, but said revenues won’t shrink despite the tough times. Overall ad sales could fall by 3%, according to Magna, with a flurry of political spending this fall during the U.S. presidential election expected to ease the recession’s blow.

Some analysts believe the current downturn could leave the tech duopoly in an even stronger position once the global economy recovers. Both Google and Facebook have enormous cash reserves $120 billion for Alphabet, $55 billion for Facebook they can use to acquire other potentially attractive services that can’t survive the recession on their own, often for cheap.

Both Google and Facebook are in a good position,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. One sign of that buy-low strategy: Facebook last week invested $5.7 billion in India telecom giant Jio. The commitment underscored its resolve to expand into one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets.

Meanwhile, social distancing and stay-at-home orders appear to have overridden privacy concerns about the companies’ services, which sparked a backlash over the way they vacuum up vast amounts of personal information. Both companies reporting rising usage. “It’s like moths being drawn to a flame,” Heger said. People can’t seem to resist them.