Job hunting site Indeed, one of Austin’s largest tech employers, has asked all 1,600 of its local employees to work from home in response to rising coronavirus concerns.
The company said in a press release on Tuesday that, while there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its employees, it has decided to err on the side of caution, halting all business travel and canceling all upcoming company-hosted events as well.
“While we recognize these measures will be inconvenient for some, we will do our best to support you,” Indeed said in a statement. “We feel it is the right action to safeguard the health and well-being of our employees while still enabling us to continue to fulfill our mission of helping people get jobs.”
Several other tech companies are also encouraging their employees to work remotely, including Twitter and Microsoft, as confirmed cases of the virus crop up throughout California and Washington state.
The global spread of the coronavirus has led to several canceled tech industry events, too, including Google’s I/O 2020 developer conference this May. Facebook has opted to hold its F8 developer conference online via video and livestream content, and Google and Microsoft have made similar decisions for their Cloud Next and MVP Summit events.
Whether Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) event will take similar action remains to be seen. The conference is scheduled for March 13-22 and some companies, including Mashable, Twitter, TikTok, Amazon and Facebook, have already announced they will not be in attendance this year, as reported by the Austin Business Journal.
“I’m concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people who will be traveling to austin texas in march [sic] for the SXSW festival,” said Shayla Lee, the poster of a Change.org petition to cancel the conference that has garnered more than 44,000 signatures. “I believe that having an event like this is irresponsible amid an outbreak.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world is climbing by the hour. While there are currently no confirmed cases in Austin, the Austin American-Statesman reported this week that Travis County is testing at least one person for the virus.
According to the Austin Business Journal, the SXSW conference is the second largest annual event held in the city, with more than 400,000 attendees last year. As of now, the event is not canceled, postponed or being made virtual.
On the conference’s COVID-19 page, last updated Monday, SXSW said it is “working closely on a daily basis with local, state, and federal agencies to plan for a safe event. As a result of this dialogue and the recommendations of Austin Public Health, we are proceeding with the 2020 event with the health and safety of our attendees, staff, and volunteers as our top priority.”