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Cloud tools becoming popular with more employees

By He Wei in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-12 09:45

A Physics teacher gives an online tuition to students at Hefei No Eight Senior High School in Hefei, East China's Anhui province, Feb 3, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Cloud-based office tools like video conferencing and online training modules are gaining traction in China as tens of millions of white-collar workers work from home to avoid the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai are the top three cities using video conferencing powered by WeChat Work, an all-in-one communications app dedicated to enterprises, according to a recent report published by its developer Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Users in the three cities were also those who opted the most for online documents, the report said, citing data based on user trends typically since Feb 3, when some companies first resumed operations after the Lunar New Year holiday this year.

Meanwhile, users in Qinghai, Hainan and Jilin provinces are least reliant on conference calls. Those working from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Gansu province and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are most efficient in their online dialogue, recording the shortest conference call duration on average.

Company owners from Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, where business activities traditionally remain vibrant, are most earnest in collecting health conditions of employees, the report said.

In terms of sectors, education, healthcare and government agencies take the top three spots in handling business requirements via the software. The highest number of online trainings sessions are conducted by users in Guangdong, Hebei and Hunan provinces.

Targeting the education industry, WeChat Work also enabled message pushes to parents so that they receive notifications from teachers in a prompt and timely manner. Parents from Baoji of Shaanxi province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Hebei province's capital city Shijiazhuang are most active in online engagement with school faculties.

Similar trends were spotted by DingTalk, a virtual office tool developed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. A sudden surge in demand last Monday even triggered a temporary disruption of the software, whose service was restored to its full by noon, according to a company statement published on microblogging service Weibo.

The company also said that more than 12 million students from around 20,000 schools across China are now taking online courses via DingTalk. Apart from the two workplace apps, people are also using Huawei's WeLink and Bytedance's Feishu for virtual morning meetings and remote team collaboration work.

The remote work software market remains unpenetrated in China, with less than 5 million remote workers in the country in 2018, according to Global Workplace Analytics. In contrast, over 80 percent of US businesses have adopted flexible working arrangements, giving rise to at least 30 million people working outside of the office terrain.

"The unexpected epidemic has 'forced' the earlier-than-expected arrival of the industry's tipping point," said Zhang Zhouping, senior analyst at the Internet Economy Institute, a domestic internet research house. "The bright side is that people have stronger awareness and are willing to embrace the technologies for improving work efficiency."

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