The video conferencing service said today it is preparing for a hybrid approach in its return to the workplace, strategically mixing remote and in-office work. This will of course be enabled by the Zoom platform, with features like Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery, that is designed to create an inclusive experience for both in-person and remote workers.
The pandemic spurred huge growth for the video calls platform, with sales in the last three months of 2020 up 370% compared with the same period in 2019.
The company said it would strategically mix remote and in-office working, but admitted that it was "not easy".
Zoom said it has consistently engaged with its employees on return-to-office preparations, regularly updating staff during bi-weekly ‘all-hands’ meetings, to create a safe space for them to express any concerns regarding potential plans. It added that flexibility remained a top priority.
The minimum want to be back in office full time
An internal poll of employees found that only 1% of the workforce wants to return to the office full-time. More than half of employees would like a hybrid approach, a quarter want to work from home permanently and the remainder mostly work remotely on a full-time basis already.
Given the success of working remotely, Zoom added it is not planning on rushing office reopenings and additionally does not plan to open any given office until it is possible to do so, without personal protective equipment and social distancing. The company reopened its office in Sydney, Australia, this summer, but temporarily closed it soon after as COVID-19 threatened the area, but there are plans to reopen again when it is safe.
No one size fits all
Kelly Steckelberg, Zoom’s Chief Financial Officer, said of the announcement: “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to returning to the office and we’re listening to our employees to understand their concerns and help guide our plans. Any decision we make at Zoom ladders into one goal: maintaining a mutual sense of trust between leadership and employees, as higher trust leads to a happier, more productive workforce. We’re carefully listening and learning, but ultimately, our office reopenings will be one component of a flexible, hybrid approach.”
Writing on a company blog, chief financial officer Kelly Steckelberg said it was "still experimenting with how that even looks".
Some other tech firms are also being cautious. Recently, Apple delayed recalling staff to the office until January at the earliest amid fears over surging Covid cases.