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Zoom plots path to hybrid return to the workplace

Pandemic’s breakout conferencing tool provider plans to support the new normal of hybrid working with systems recognising both remote and in-office work

Having seen its first quarter 2021 revenue reach nearly $1bn, up 191% year on year, video conferencing firm Zoom Video Communications has proved that its success looks to be enduring and not under threat as employees head back to the office. Aiming to maintain this momentum in the post-Covid world, the company is now preparing for a hybrid approach to address the return to the workplace, strategically mixing remote and in-office work.

The new normal according to the company will be enabled by the Zoom platform, with features such as Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery designed to create an inclusive experience for both in-person and remote workers.

In formulating its solutions for the next-generation of work, Zoom says it has consistently engaged with 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 for its staff, flexibility remains a top priority, with an internal poll of employees finding that only 1% of the workforce wants to return to the office full-time.

Over half would like a hybrid approach, a quarter want to work from home permanently, and the rest mostly work remotely on a full-time basis already.

Given what it says is the success of working remotely, Zoom is not planning on rushing office reopenings, and 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, with plans to reopen again when it is safe.

“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,” said Zoom chief financial officer Kelly Steckelberg. “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.”

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In addition to announcing that its first quarter fiscal revenues were almost treble those posted at the end of April 2020, Zoom has recently enhanced its portfolio.

In June 2021, Zoom revealed that it was aiming to empower the hybrid workforce by introducing devices that offer an all-in-one desk phone solution for calls and meetings, with hardware appliances from Poly and Yealink. This came hot on the heels of unveiling an evolutionary step with a platform for producing and monetising interactive virtual events and conferences.

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