Many of Oregon’s largest tech companies have begun asking their employees to work from home this week as they work to insulate their businesses and workers against the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
Oregon employers have been much slower to shut down offices than those in Seattle and the Bay Area, where the COVID-19 outbreak appears more widespread. But that is changing rapidly.
Mentor Graphics “suggested” this week that its 1,500 Wilsonville employees work remotely, according to Noah Cole, director of global communications for Siemens Digital Industries Software, which owns Mentor. He said no one on its 53-acre site in Wilsonville has tested positive for the coronavirus but the company is being cautious as it gauges the impact of the outbreak.
The campus is technically open, Cole said, but “The majority of people are heeding the suggestion and are working from home.”
Intel, Oregon’s largest corporate employer, told employees Friday that those whose jobs allow may work from home. The company’s research and manufacturing operations are based in Hillsboro so many Intel employees cannot easily work remotely without disrupting production.
The chipmaker, which has a factory and test-and-assembly facility in China, said last week that it was continuing to operate on a “relatively normal basis” despite the outbreak.
Software company New Relic, which employs more than 500 at its engineering office in downtown Portland, said Wednesday it is “strongly encouraging our employees to work from home.”
Design software company Autodesk, which has 300 employees in Southeast Portland, said Wednesday that it is “encouraging employees to work from home, restricting business travel and transitioning critical events to virtual programs.”
Google, which employs several dozen in downtown Portland, has asked all employees in North America to work from home. And Portland e-learning specialist OpenSesame has closed its office and told employees to work from home at least through the end of the month.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday as it became clear the outbreak has spread widely in countries around the world. Oregon health authorities have disclosed 15 positive tests in the state but no deaths have been attributed to the outbreak.
Nationwide there have been more than 1,000 positive coronavirus tests and 31 deaths, most of those in the Seattle area. Washington state has 273 confirmed cases and 24 deaths.
Twitter, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have all asked employees in the Seattle area to work from home. Amazon has a substantial presence in downtown Portland but didn’t respond Wednesday to questions about the status of those offices.