With the world-wide concern over the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg blogged a message concerning the situation, social distancing and Second Life operations on Wednesday, March 18th. In particular he noted:
As concerns about the current coronavirus outbreak continue, we want to assure the community that we have taken steps to ensure that the Second Life operations stay steady while also helping our employees stay safe through this public health crisis. Our hearts and thoughts go out to those who have been affected by this unprecedented event.
Second Life will continue to be available without interruption as we get through this tough time together. Due to our previous crisis contingency planning and the flexible nature of our distributed workforce, we are not expecting any changes to response times for support inquiries and payment processing.
We know that Second Life serves a great purpose for our community as people seek ways to stay in touch with their friends and co-workers, as they grapple with new social distancing protocols, mandated remote work requirements, and other precautionary measures. …
Like many companies across the globe, we’ve put into action new remote work policies for our employees to ensure that they can take care of themselves and their families while continuing to work from home. Prior to this incident, a large percentage of our company was already working from the “Moonlab” (that’s what we call remote employees’ locations), so we have been able to transition quickly and efficiently to a fully remote setup.
The blog post also noted the recent reduction in tier fees that has been made for educational organisations and non-profits (see: Second Life: support for remote working & reduced education / non-profit fees – updated), and goes on to indicate that Second Life is seeing a resurgence of interest in the platform as a result of the outbreak, with an increase in new user registrations and in returning users.
As a pair of purely anecdotal comments on this latter point, out of the attendees at the Tuesday, March 17th SUG meeting, one indicated they were a returning user, brought back to SL as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, March 18th, I was able to assist a student trying to reach lessons at NOVA, the Northern Virginia Community College. He was on his first day in SL, his classes having shifted to being on-line / in-world and had managed to get himself somewhat lost! It only took a moment to look-up the college in Search, provide a link in chat and explain to him how to use it, and he was on his way! So, as the blog notes, it’s worth taking the time to make newcomers welcome and provide a little support to help them feel comfortable.