OTTAWA -- Shopify is telling its employees to work from home starting next week as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The Ottawa-based e-commerce giant says it’s moving to a remote-first starting Monday, March 16.

"We are asking our 5,000 employees around the globe to work from home, cancel all work travel, external conferences, and take additional preventative measures to protect themselves," Shopify spokeswoman Sheryl So said in a statement.

The company's offices and spaces will also be closed for events.

"We believe working from home is the best option for our employees right now as we continue to monitor the progress of the virus over the coming weeks," So said.

A tweet from Shopify said working from home "will help play a part in reducing the spread of the virus, and hopefully lessen its potentially huge burden on the healthcare system."

The company announced in November that it had surpassed the 1,000-employee mark in its Ottawa offices.

Shopify also has offices in Toronto, Waterloo and Montreal, as well as in the U.S. and overseas.