Zoom, videoconferencing darling of Covid lockdowns, calls employees back to office

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California-headquartered video communications company, Zoom, has decided to bring its employees back to the office as it believes that a “structured hybrid approach” is the most effective way forward, media reports said. As per the latest changes, the company says it plans to have employees living within 50 miles (80 km) of an office to work in person at least twice a week. This move comes as other major companies, like Amazon and Disney, have decreased their remote work days.

Zoom was a widely used video conferencing platform, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic struck in early 2020, many people worldwide were forced to work from home and so Zoom became essential for conducting work meetings, online classes, webinars, virtual events, and connecting with family and friends. 

Initially, Zoom allowed its staff to work remotely indefinitely, but now it is no more the same. The new policy will reportedly be implemented in August and September, with a staggered timeline across countries.

The company said that it remains committed to hiring the “best talent, regardless of location”. In January end, Zoom hired about 8,400 employees, over half of whom were based in the US. The company said the new changes will help it to “better position to use our own technologies, continue to innovate, and support our global customers”. “We’ll continue to leverage the entire Zoom platform to keep our employees and dispersed teams connected and working efficiently,” Zoom said.

Zoom faces challenges as the growth of remote work has slowed significantly since the peak of the pandemic. Competitors like Microsoft are upgrading their video offerings in response to the expanding remote work landscape. As a result, Zoom has taken measures to cut staff and reduce executive pay.

These developments have led to a decline in Zoom’s stock value, from over $500 per share at its peak in October 2020 to approximately $68 per share currently.

Survey results show mixed trends

Before the pandemic, remote work in the US was relatively low, at around 5 per cent. However, it became more common during the pandemic. 

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Although remote work has been popular during the pandemic, surveys indicate that workers are still interested in maintaining some level of remote work flexibility. In the US, where Zoom is headquartered, around 12 per cent of workers were fully remote in July, while 29 per cent followed hybrid policies, according to a Stanford University-led monthly survey conducted since the pandemic, media reports said. Similar patterns have been observed in the UK by the Office for National Statistics.

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