February 3rd, 2020

mom walk

first actual day back at work

Just a short update today.

The (extended) national holidays ended today, which means the stock markets reopened and - predictably - crashed. Guangdong province has advised everyone to stay home for another week, but many employers are requesting people work from home if possible.

In a straw poll of my department, one middle manager is locked down in a small town in Hubei with barely any internet and no laptop, one product manager was on holiday in America and is happily staying there as long as possible, the other PMs and line managers are dotted around the country with team strengths around 75%. We have people stuck in Hubei and Hunan who cannot leave their city because the buses and trains have been shut down. We have people stuck in northern China who can't get across the Yangtze. We have people in Shenzhen and other parts of Guangdong, tethering their laptops to their phones just like me.

Bloomberg did an article on how this is the world's biggest work from home experiment, but since they have a paywall, here's Time instead: https://time.com/5776660/coronavirus-work-from-home/

Our company did well. Everything "just worked". Office VPN worked. Zoom (video chat) worked. Slack (text chat) worked.

Other companies in China did not fare so well. Alibaba and Tencent maintain platforms for business communication (video and text), but they both crashed hard this morning as tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of white collar Chinese tried to work from home simultaneously. Baidu and Huawei both had their internal networks go down. Bytedance (of Tiktok fame) seem to have won this first battle of the Chinese tech giants when it comes to network stability.

It'll be interesting to see if work from home remains popular after the virus scare dies down.

Tomorrow i am going to have go to the store to buy some more food. I trust the markets will be well-stocked for now, especially with so many people still stuck in their home province. Then again, this'll be the first time i go shopping since they set up checkpoints around the urban villages, so who knows?