Zoom mandates employees’ return to the office
Zoom, the company known for its video communications and closely associated with remote work during the pandemic, has issued a directive for its employees to return to the office.
The company is adopting a “structured hybrid approach” and is urging employees who live within a 50-mile radius of an office to work in person at least twice per week.
This move follows a trend of major companies scaling back on remote work policies, with Amazon and Disney also reducing remote work days. Despite these shifts, surveys indicate that workers still value the option to work from home to some extent.
In the US, where Zoom is headquartered, around 12% of workers were fully remote in July, and an additional 29% had hybrid work policies, according to a monthly survey conducted by Stanford University researchers and others since the onset of the pandemic. This is consistent with patterns observed by the UK’s Office for National Statistics.
Prior research from Stanford has shown that remote work is more prevalent in English-speaking countries compared to Asia and Europe.
Before the pandemic, remote work accounted for only about 5% of total workdays in the US. Despite these trends, global workers consistently express a desire for greater flexibility in their work arrangements compared to what employers consider optimal.
It’s worth noting that Zoom had previously indicated that its employees would have the option to work remotely indefinitely.
The tech firm said the new policy would be rolled out in August and September, on a staggered timeline that varied by country.
It said it would continue to “hire the best talent, regardless of location”. At the end of January, the company employed about 8,400 people, more than half of whom were based in the US.
About 200 people currently work for Zoom in the UK, where it just opened a new London office.
Zoom said that the new policy, which was first reported by Business Insider, would put the company in a “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.
Only about 1% of the company’s workers had “regular office presences” in September 2022, while 75% lived remotely and the remainder had hybrid arrangements, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
But Zoom is under mounting pressure as the expansion of remote work prompts rivals, such as Microsoft, to upgrade their video offerings.
Growth has slowed sharply since the pandemic. Earlier this year, it announced it was cutting 15% of its staff and top executives would take major pay cuts.
Its shares are worth about $68 apiece today, down from more than $500 at the peak in October 2020.