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London calling as Zoom opens hub heralding new era of modern work

Communications tech provider makes latest evolutionary step having gained reputation as breakthrough pandemic collaboration company, opening doors on hub in UK capital to support hybrid ways of working

Zoom Video Communications has opened a new London office to demonstrate to customers, partners and itself how to maximise the opportunities for what it calls the true modern workplace.

Officially titled the London Engagement Hub, the Holborn-based office is designed to support the changing nature of the employee experience, marking a new era of modern work and spearheading what the company says is the shift from traditional office spaces to experiential working hubs.

The move to the 15,000 square foot space has been designed to bring Zoom’s workplace strategy to life, providing optimal working spaces for colleagues who live close to the office to collaborate in-person on designated team days. The building will offer a collaborative space where Zoom’s more than 200 UK employees can share ideas and strategies, while fostering a sense of community across the global Zoom network.

The office has been transformed into a multi-use cohesive hub with built-in Zoom technology.

“The world of modern work has changed,” said Phil Perry, head of UK and Ireland at Zoom. “Both employers and employees have experienced the benefits of a more flexible approach to work and want to use technologies like Zoom to maintain them. This means more and more communication will take place across more channels, and collaboration across oceans.

“The organisations that best adapt to these changes and optimise the benefits of technology and flexible working, while maximising the times that teams spend face to face, will be those that succeed commercially in the race for the best talent,” he said. “And it’s no different here at Zoom.”

Split into different zones, the Engagement Hub includes 75 work points, ranging from library-style benches, touchdown spaces, agile tables for collaboration and traditional desks. All of these offerings are bookable through Zoom’s workspace reservation tool.

Read more about the new normal of work

The office is equipped with the tools, technologies and workspaces to foster human connection as well as enable digital engagement. To encourage in-person connection and cooperation, the Engagement Hub contains creative furniture, community areas and formal gathering spaces, as well as quiet corners for calls. Each meeting room – boasting names after the leading lights of UK music, namely The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Oasis and Queen – is equipped with the latest Zoom Rooms technology along with digital signage in order, says Zoom, to bring collaboration and customisation into any space, making meetings “frictionless”, regardless of what devices employees are working from.

In addition, an Executive Briefing Centre (EBC), set to open in early 2024, will provide a demonstration space, offering a hands-on immersive education experience for employees, prospects and customers to drive business outcomes.

Real estate in the room

Yet one of the key noticeable shifts in workplace culture, indeed management, is that the new Engagement Hub shows how when it comes to the new world of hybrid working, real estate is now in the room. Zoom head of real estate and workplace Alana Collins said the London Engagement Hub had been intentionally designed with the employee experience at the heart of it, and that for in-person days, it was important to have a structure, rooted at a team level, to build value and purpose.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, she said: “I think where the world is going is to put more focus on people. You’re always going to have people that may not be in your office, but we hire so many folks, and we were limited on taking more real estate because we didn’t know if another pandemic was coming. After the pandemic hit, we [knew] that we had to grow even quicker and faster. And we can’t forget about the 60% that are not in an office or near an office. So [we are] investing in people … to have them feel connected.

“But it’s always going to be a work in progress,” said Collins. “I think there’s something about being in the office. You create mentorships, you create socialisation. [And] I do think companies really need to focus on remote as well.”

One thing she stressed was that Zoom was not just a video conferencing company anymore. What the company now provides is a platform to solve business communications such as contact centre and IQ for sales, and a platform to learn from customers to respond better to their needs.

“It’s so important that we continue to lean in on different opportunities and solve them: it’s not just about video anymore,” she said. “And that’s where it’s so important to connect with our customers. Be on-site, see what their needs are.

I’ve changed my whole real estate strategy from learning from my customers,” said Collins. “[Everything from] virtual reception to when you come in with the wayfinding and booking your desk, that was all newly created because we had to solve bringing back people that had never been to an office.

“We wanted to make that journey seamless for them,” she said. “I think even from the virtual reception … It is really going to be [about] continued ways of how we connect to people and offer different parts of the platform that can make their journey easier.”

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