Following its growth during the pandemic, video communications company Zoom, which made remote working possible for many, has now ordered staff back to the office for two days a week.
Those Within A Commutable Distance
This move from Zoom, which many see as a trend among big companies to pull-back from their major commitments to flexible working, will require workers within a “commutable distance” (i.e. 50 miles / 80km) of the company’s offices to come to the office twice a week for designated team days.
Not Many In The UK
It is not known exactly how many of Zoom’s 8,400 (mostly US-based) workers will be affected by the new policy from the Californian company. Few of those affected, however, are likely to be in the UK because only around 200 people work for Zoom’s newly opened London office.
The rollout of the change to work practices will take place through this month and September on a staggered timeline depending on which country staff are in.
Structured Hybrid Working
The decision by the company is reported to follow its move towards a “structured hybrid approach” to work. This contrasts with Zoom saying, at one time, that all staff could work remotely indefinitely, but the move is not unexpected. For example, 29 per cent of US workers now operate within hybrid policies (Stanford).
Zoom is one of the last of a number of large corporations to order a return to the office to some extent, perhaps lagging because of its close association with the idea of working remotely (which its product enables), and it has faced tough competition in recent times.
Will Hire Regardless Of Location
That said, Zoom has said that it still intends to “hire the best talent, regardless of location”.
Trouble At Mill In Recent Years
Whereas Zoom enjoyed a massive boost in user numbers during the height of the pandemic, e.g. 10 million daily users in December 2019 rising to a staggering 300 million less than six months later, these days it’s a different story. For example, Zoom has suffered in recent times from:
– Falling net profits.
– Strong competition and improved, expanded offerings from remote work platform rivals like Microsoft Teams and Slack.
– A fall in share price, i.e. from $500 in October 2020 to $68 now (August 2023).
The company’s worsening fortunes prompted 1,300 jobs to be cut earlier this year.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
With the pandemic now appearing to be quite a long way in the rear-view mirror, even though the value of remote working is known, it is no longer so high upon the priority list with many big companies rowing back and finding a happy medium with hybrid working.
The move by Zoom has only really gained clout as news story because its business has been to enable remote working (the irony) but, with new post pandemic priorities in the marketplace, serious competition and improved offerings from Teams and Slack, falling popularity and share prices, and with AI being the new popular kid on the block overshadowing all else, Zoom’s move back to the office may be necessary.
Zoom has itself just launched a new product, the AI-powered Intelligent Director, which “brings together in-office and remote employees,” thereby accepting and marketing for the changing times and fighting back by introducing AI.
By Mike Knight