At the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many tech companies offered support programs for small to medium businesses (SMBs) with free offerings and trials for some of their most coveted remote products.
Slack offered free access to a paid plan for three months, Zoom lifted the 40-minute meeting limit on free basic accounts for K-12 schools, and Hootsuite offered free access to their professional plan for small businesses and nonprofits. Many other big names jumped on this bandwagon, with Facebook creating its Small Business Grant Program, offering $100 million in cash grants, and Google offering an over $800 million support program for SMBs, health organizations, governments, and health workers.
Though now in 2021, many of these grants, free trials, and subsidies for SMBs have lapsed.
AWS however, has announced that it has reintroduced its free Work from Home Offer for Amazon WorkSpaces to support SMBs as they implement long-term remote work policies as the COVID-19 pandemic endures.
Amazon WorkSpaces is currently offered for up to 54 users at no charge for new WorkSpaces customers, available through July 31, 2021. This includes 50 standard WorkSpaces and additionally one Windows performance bundle, two Linux standard bundles, and one Workspaces Windows Value bundle. Amazon WorkSpaces customers currently using the Free Tier will be able to continue doing so through the July 31 date. These WorkSpaces can be used in any AWS Region where the WorkSpaces Free Tier is currently available.
Alongside other tech giants like Facebook and Zoom, a year ago AWS helped businesses scale up on Amazon WorkSpaces to enable working from home. And while many organizations continue to rely on cloud solutions to remain operational, AWS remains to be one of the few tech companies to extend its free offerings to SMBs who are still struggling to keep their heads above water.
There still remain other companies who are making an effort to address the needs of SMBs trying to regain their financial footing. Online advertising credits are being granted by companies like Google, which can be used by small businesses to offset payments to help bring online customers to existing business or new digital offerings, which is vital during lockdowns. Business-centric return to work solutions like those from Salesforce, Microsoft, and UnitedHealth can reduce efforts required for manual tracing of cases inside the company, but also allow SMBs to collaborate in person or provide in-person services to B2B and B2C customers.
A recent Boston Consulting Group analysis of technology use cases shows that these sectors received nearly 90% of tech’s COVID response while only 10% of solutions were geared towards SMBs. Tech companies are positioned to help SMBs access needed financing, adapt to new working models, and ultimately return to work safely. These tech companies can also provide products and services with expertise and financial flexibility to support SMBs in their adaptation to the digital-first world.