One impact from the sudden change to remote work amid the COVID-19 crisis: Satya Nadella is no longer working from his bed at home.
“Sharing the office with my daughters has been actually quite fun,” the Microsoft CEO said Tuesday. “In fact I take my daughters’ help in setting up all of the things around my computer because I used to always work on my bed. Now I work at a real desk.”
Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech
That’s one of the silver linings to come out of the novel coronavirus outbreak and resulting economic impact.
In an interview with CNBC, Nadella said he’s confident that Microsoft will come out of the COVID-19 crisis “pretty strong.”
“We will weather the storm,” he said, adding that the Redmond, Wash.-based company has a “great balance sheet” and a “very diverse business.”
“We have a mix of annuity, non-annuity that is also stronger than even the last time we went into the financial crisis,” he said.
Microsoft stock was up 8 percent Tuesday, though it’s down more than 20 percent over the past month amid the stock market plunge.
Much like fellow Seattle tech giant Amazon, some of Microsoft’s technology has become crucial with social distancing and work-from-home mandates in place. For example, its Teams collaboration app saw a 37% spike in daily active users last week. Nadella said Teams is seeing a “60X increase” and 900 million minutes of usage a day.
Microsoft is handling peak demand with its Azure data centers and services such as Teams and Xbox Live, which recently surpassed holiday season usage, Nadella said. The CEO noted that the company’s back-end systems are holding up fine, adding that the “scale for sure is unprecedented.”
“If this was a previous generation of data center architectures or software architectures, I don’t think we would have been able to deal with this crisis as effectively as we have been able to,” he said.
Asked if the economic slowdown will affect product launches, Nadella said the company’s supply chains are “coming back” and that he’s more concerned with demand in markets such as the U.S. and Europe.
Nadella said the main priority at Microsoft is the health and safety of its employees. He said the company will follow public health guidances as far as when employees will return to work.
“I don’t think it’s going to be one day that everybody comes back,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to do it in waves and also to really ensure that the curve that is being flattened and doesn’t spike back again. That is going to be the key challenge and this is going to remain with us until we have a real therapeutic or a vaccine.”
The company said in February that it will miss revenue guidance for its “More Personal Computing” business segment, which includes Windows, due to the outbreak.
Microsoft was one of the first companies to ask employees to work from home as the COVID-19 disease began spreading in the Seattle area. Two employees tested positive on March 6. The company employs nearly 54,000 people in the Seattle region, most of them at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. It will continue to pay on-campus hourly vendors their regular compensation.
Microsoft closed its retail stores last week. It also moved its Build developer event in Seattle to an online-only event, and announced Monday it would do the same with its annual Inspire event, originally scheduled for July 9-13 in Las Vegas.