Virus Disrupts Tech Supply Chain; HR Tech Vendors Open Products

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Technology executives say the coronavirus has had a “devastating” impact on the business-technology supply chain, leaving large employers without thousands of new computers and examining how and when they’ll carry through on plans to distribute new tools and applications to their workforce.

The comments were made in an interview held just before the federal government recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people. The U.S. task force on the virus also asked citizens throughout the country to avoid unnecessary travel.

HR technology vendors are offering free services to help employers navigate the #coronavirus. #HRTech #HR Click To Tweet

In California, seven counties around Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area imposed a shelter-in-place order that begins today. The order, which San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the order was the strongest yet made in the U.S., instructs residents to stay home for three weeks, unless they face “essential” needs.

Workday, based in Pleasanton, Calif., said it will disburse a one-time payment to most employees, equivalent to two weeks’ pay, “to help accommodate any unforeseen costs and needs at their discretion.” The company expects the payment to add about $80 million to its fiscal first quarter 2021 expenses. 

Watching the Infrastructure

Some technology executives and managed service providers are keeping an eye on the country’s network infrastructure. “The infrastructure of the internet and various cloud-hosted services will be tested like never before over the next few months,” wrote MJ Shoer, an industry consultant based in Portsmouth, N.H.

In a telephone interview, Shoer said local internet nodes could be overwhelmed by the increase in traffic as more people undertake work off-site.

Another executive, this one involved in channel distribution, said organizations that rely primarily on laptops “are doing fine” under current circumstances. Companies that depend on their employees’ presence in the office face more challenges, he said.

HR Tech Vendors Offer Services

A number of HR tech companies have begun offering free services in an effort to help customers—and prospective customers—cope with pandemic-related workforce issues. For example:

  • iCIMS is providing open access to a selection of tools for three months, including communications, applicant tracking, CRM and virtual career fair capabilities.
  • HR Acuity’s employee relations and investigation platform is available at no charge until July 1. Available features include documentation and tracking of employee issues related to COVID-19, employee monitoring and trend analysis.
  • Boston-based workforce management platform Quinyx said it will provide access to its communication platform for any organization that needs to stay in touch with deskless workers.
  • Docebo has added four free courses on coronavirus-infection control and pandemic awareness to its content catalog. Meanwhile, Benefitfocus offered customers resources that cover issues related to the virus and its impact on benefits-related operations and communications.  

Some workplace technology providers are taking a contrarian stance to the work-from-home message. One provider of virtual workplaces argues that communications tools such as Slack and Zoom are “adding gasoline to the blazing fire of misinformation during this critical time.” As a result, it said, “leadership teams are struggling to regulate these systems during a time when communication is essential.”

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