5 big tech companies making remote-work tools free during the coronavirus outbreak, including Google and Microsoft

  • Working from home is becoming more than a trend as companies tried to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Five tech companies are making virtual communication tools free for small business: Microsoft, Google, LogMeIn, Cisco, and Zoom.
  • All of the tools they are offering are at least free for the next three months, if not longer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Many companies are looking for ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within their workforce by asking people to work from home. For example, Twitter has asked its entire workforce of 5,000 employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future. 

Of course, if your company is considering sending everyone home to work for a few days or weeks, you’re probably wondering whether you have the systems in place to make that happen. If that’s you, the good news is that a few tech companies are offering their services to help you stay connected. 

Here are five tech companies that are making it easier to work remotely, and are making their services more accessible to small businesses and organizations:

10 things you need to know before the opening bell

Here’s what you need to know before the markets open.

1. Big tech stocks lost more than $200 billion in market value in a day from coronavirus fears. Apple, Google-parent Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook all saw their stocks tumble at least 4% on Monday as investors braced for coronavirus to escalate into a global pandemic.

2. Warren Buffett says he would vote for Mike Bloomberg over Bernie Sanders, but doubts his endorsement would help the billionaire. “I don’t think another billionaire supporting him would be the best thing to announce,” the famed investor said.

3. Facebook has been investigating ‘suspicious’ pro-Sanders content, but hasn’t found any evidence it’s inauthentic. Officials have told Sanders that his campaign may be benefiting from Russian interference, and President Donald Trump has called for Democrats to investigate.

4. Washington pledges $1 billion for coronavirus vaccine as pandemic risks grow. The White House is seeking a total of $2.5 billion from Congress to develop a vaccine, invest in therapeutics, and stockpile masks.

5. Trump says stock markets will crash if he loses election. “If I don’t win you’re going to see a crash like you’ve never seen before,” the president said in India this week.

6. China’s main manufacturing hubs reboot after virus shutdown. Hubs in east and south China are seeing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returning to work and more traffic on the roads during rush hours.

7. Grab is raising $706 million from MUFG to roll out financial services. The Southeast Asian ride-hailing group is topping up its cash pile as it seeks to expand aggressively into financial services.

8. Stocks are in flux. European equities fell with Germany’s DAX down 0.3%, Britain’s FTSE 100 down 0.6%, and the Euro Stoxx 50 down 0.4%. Asian indexes were mixed with China’s Shanghai Composite down 0.6% and Japan’s Nikkei down 3.3%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.3%. US stocks are poised to open higher. Futures underlying the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 rose 0.4%, while Nasdaq futures rose 0.7%.

9. It’s a bumper day for earnings. Home Depot and Salesforce are the highlights.

10. Some interesting data is coming out. Look out for housing prices and consumer confidence figures.

1,000 tourists on a Spanish island are quarantined in their hotel after one of them tested positive for coronavirus

Spanish officials have put 1,000 people staying at a plush hotel in the Canary Islands under quarantine after one of its guests tested positive for the coronavirus, according to local media.

More than 1,000 holidaymakers are confined to their rooms in the four-star Hotel H10 Costa Adeje Palace on the island of Tenerife, with police guard outside, reported The Local.

The man who fell sick was a doctor visiting from Lombary, Italy, the center of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, according to local media.

The Italian man reported himself to the health authorities on Monday afternoon after experiencing flu-like symptoms. He had been staying at the hotel for a week with his wife, reported the Diario de Avisos.

He was taken to Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Hospital, on Tenerife, where he tested positive for the virus. Canary Islands president Ángel Víctor Torres tweeted that he will be tested again in Madrid.

The new coronavirus diagnosis closely follows massive seasonal sandstorms that hit the islands over the weekend. Víctor Torres called the events a “nightmare weekend” after hundreds of flights were grounded, trapping thousands of tourists.

With 467 rooms according to Oyster.com, the Hotel H10 Costa Adeje Palace is likely to have been operating at nearly full capacity when the coronavirus alert was raised.

A woman who answered Business Insider’s call to the H10 hotel chain bookings line said that the Costa Adeje Palace was “closed,” but said she could not offer any more details.

Business Insider has contacted H10’s corporate headquarters for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, the infected man will take his secondary tests at the National Center of Microbiology of the Carlos III Health Institute on the mainland, in Madrid, Spain’s capital.

The ministry said it was activating the same coronavirus measures it used for Spain’s two previous cases of the coronavirus.

Person wearing surgical mask is seen on balcony at hospital in remote Spanish island of La Gomera coronavirus

Foto: A person wearing a surgical mask seen on the balcony at a hospital on the Spanish island of La Gomera, where the first case of novel coronavirus in the country was confirmed on February 1.sourceBorja Suarez/Reuters

Both were connected to the tourist industry. The first case was a German tourist who was taken ill in La Gomera, another of the Canary Islands, according to The Local.

Another, on the Balearic island of Mallorca, was a British man whose infection was traced back to Singapore, via a group of tourists he met in a French chalet, reported the outlet.

Is Your Brand Getting Lost in the Online Shuffle?

In the scramble for sales on Amazon and other major online sites, many marketers are losing control over their brand messaging.

Nike recently announced that it would stop selling its footwear and apparel through Amazon in an effort to take more control over its brand presence online. In making the announcement, Nike executives stated that the company didn’t need distribution for distribution’s sake. Instead, it wanted to make investments that would lead to a better online experience for its customers and build more direct, personal relationships.

Nike’s decision highlights a fundamental challenge for companies that have ambitions to make e-commerce an important part of their marketing activities: how to apply their experience and wisdom around effective brand strategy in the offline world to online shopping. Successful brick-and-mortar merchants understand the value of a carefully organized and coherent brand merchandising plan and would never say, “Just line up all the products and let customers muddle through.” Yet this is essentially what people get when they shop online.

Few companies have the resources or market clout to take direct control of their online presence like Nike is doing. Even powerful, well-established brands tend to rely on e-commerce sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Etsy.com for online sales. Unilever, the consumer goods giant, for example, generates about 5% of its worldwide revenue online, but only a small fraction of those sales come from its own websites; the rest come from the likes of Walmart.com and Amazon.com. Apparel brands Hanes and Levi’s rely heavily on major online retailers for digital distribution. The same goes for toys and games, where Lego, Mattel, Hasbro, and Nintendo achieve more than 80% of their online sales through Amazon.

However, by relying on third-party sites for digital growth and logistical distribution, product marketers are at the mercy of the watered-down customer experience these sites provide, diluting their visual equity and their overall brand value proposition. Indeed, if you search for “skin care products” on Amazon, for example, you’ll be bombarded with a seemingly endless display of results — more than 100,000 of them. Obviously, this doesn’t help online customers recognize and understand the value proposition of a particular product or brand. Nor does it help to inform the customer’s selection among the different product versions within a company’s brand portfolio.

Building Connections With Consumers

Effective brick-and-mortar retailers find ways to create rich sensory experiences with consumers. They understand that visual aesthetics and carefully designed displays of merchandise are important building blocks that make emotional connections with their consumers and help customers navigate and engage with brands. Consumers need to see and connect with your brand to become loyal buyers as opposed to being simply purchasers.

Companies with strong brands also know that consumers shop with their eyes. Therefore, they seek out opportunities to build and display coherent lines of products with a distinctive look and feel — something that’s difficult to achieve in most online shopping experiences. According to a recent McKinsey study, companies that place a priority on cohesive design generate 32% more revenue growth and 56% higher total returns to shareholders than enterprises that don’t.

Many companies with strong brands use brand architecture to organize their offerings into collections of products with similar visual characteristics and benefits. This helps customers find what they’re looking for and understand what the brand has to offer. A strong brand also can become a launchpad for new product extensions that leverage deeper and more profitable relationships with particular customer groups. Businesses without a broad portfolio are limited in their ability to grow in ways that take advantage of the credibility, visual recognition, and purchasing loyalty they work so hard to build.

Often, consumers don’t realize the extent to which they use a visual and emotional evaluation process to make their buying decisions because the process happens so quickly. For instance, when somebody purchases Diet Coke Ginger Lime, they are actually buying the Coke identity and the promise of Diet Coke, with ginger and lime flavor.

Many brands, in fact, have constructed product portfolios around visual identities and benefits that are geared toward particular customer segments. Structured carefully, companies can tie the shopping experience to rich and engaging brand narratives. Yet when presented through sites like Amazon or Zappos, the product portfolio is not displayed, and the brand message is muted. The customer experience online is reduced to rows and columns of product images from an array of competing suppliers.

Reimagining the Online Experience

The digital, technical, and visual branding opportunities that e-commerce afford are still evolving; even so, smart companies and their marketing teams should strive to distinguish their offerings from competitors’ by enhancing and aligning their brand messages online. This calls for a new level of collaboration between brand owners and major e-commerce sites to optimize the customer’s online experience. Working together, online marketplaces and marketers can create shopping coherence for customers, where the brand’s value and message are presented with greater consistency and emotion.

Although e-commerce destinations can and should emphasize the breadth of their offerings along with speedy distribution and delivery, they should also provide enhanced opportunities for visual branding. Marketers, in turn, should emphasize their brand’s visual attributes and overall quality within the digital marketplaces. The following principles can help companies reveal inconsistencies between their brand’s online presence and their brand strategy in the physical world. It is not expected that every company can tackle all of these principles at once. However, they provide a useful starting point for gaining greater control of brand messaging online.

Your e-commerce presence should be consistent with your in-store experience. Companies have opportunities to restage their e-commerce presence to capitalize on the visual brand cues their consumers are familiar with and connect to. Outdoor apparel brand The North Face, for example, builds its branding around the joy of the outdoors. Therefore, every product offering it displays online or in its physical stores should reflect this fundamental message. Even simple digital product shots can include evocative backgrounds that reinforce the brand’s outdoors spirit.

Products sold online should reflect your overall brand prestige. Look for ways to reinforce each offering in your portfolio with the power of your overarching brand proposition, regardless of which channel you’re selling through. Le Creuset, the high-end French cookware manufacturer, is known to chefs around the world. Every product the company puts its name on, be it a $20 vegetable peeler or a $400 cast-iron Dutch oven, should build on the attributes of the Le Creuset brand, with its distinctive colors and well-presented usage suggestions.

Your e-commerce presence should invite customer engagement. Do what you can to make your online presence fun and visually captivating, so consumers look forward to shopping for your brand whether they are on your own brand’s website or on Amazon.com. Consumers should be able to virtually touch your product and imagine it as a part of their lives — much as they would connect with your brand physically. American Girl, which has sold dolls based on stories since the 1980s, has a product offering that lets customers design their own doll.

Your e-commerce strategy should grow your brand though repeat purchases. Visually reinforce your overall brand identity, making your products stand out as a way to build customer loyalty. For example, the packaging of the Huggies diaper brand relies heavily on the color red. This makes its portfolio of offerings easy for customers to spot, regardless of whether they are shopping in a store or on an online site. Repeat purchases are sustained by customer familiarity and trust.

Despite the limitations, online shopping is here to stay. The convenience, speed, and price-comparison advantages are powerful lures for both customers and companies. Nevertheless, the benefits for companies need to extend beyond quick sales and fast delivery. Ultimately, they must find ways to collaborate with third-party e-commerce sites to help build their own brands. Companies that succeed in closing the gap between their physical retail presence and how they manage their brands digitally will gain big advantages over their competitors.

Photos show how Ryan Newman’s devastating, fiery 190 mph crash at the Daytona 500 unfolded

Ryan Newman was left in a “serious condition” in hospital on Monday night following a devastating crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500.

Roush Fenway Racing driver Newman was leading the race in Florida with less than a lap remaining when he was spun out by Ryan Blaney, and subsequently thrown into the air as Corey LaJoie crashed into him at 190 miles-per-hour, according to Sky.

Newman’s car landed on its roof and burst into flames, before rescue crews rushed to stop the fire and get the 42-year-old out of the vehicle. 

He was taken immediately to hospital, where doctors are treating him for serious but “non life threatening injuries.”

“Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medical Center,” said NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell after the incident.

“We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family at this time.”

See the full sequence of events, and the aftermath, below.