Now even Zoom tells staff: ‘Come back to the office’

It was arguably the mass shift to remote working sparked by coronavirus lockdowns which saw Zoom rapidly become a household name – but now, three years later, even the tech giant itself is extolling the benefits of a physical office.

The videoconferencing firm has now told employees who live within 50 miles of an office that they should commute in at least two days each week, in a plan due to come into force over the course of the next two months.

The move to what Zoom calls a “structured hybrid approach” will impact thousands of employees at 12 offices across the world, including in the UK.

A spokesperson said: “We believe that a structured hybrid approach – meaning employees that live near an office need to be onsite two days a week to interact with their teams – is most effective for Zoom.

“As a company, we are 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. Additionally, we will continue to hire the best talent, regardless of location.”

The company was reported to have nearly 8,500 employees at the end of 2022, but like several other big tech companies was forced to let go 15 per cent of its staff in February, amounting to some 1,300 employees, as chief executive Eric Yuan took a 98 per cent pay cut.

Zoom went from having 10 million daily meeting participants in 2019– a measure which fails to account for whether one person attends multiple meetings – to 300 million the following year, as social and working lives were pushed further online by health restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Zoom was the the most downloaded free iPhone app in 2020

(Getty Images)

But the tech firm has taken a hit amid a push by many firms to get employees back into offices, with its share price falling from a high of $559 in October 2020 to $68, lower than they were prior to the pandemic.

Mr Yuan faced a series of questions from employees who expressed frustration about the time and money they’d waste while commuting, during a tense meeting about the new hybrid policy last week, one employee who was present told the New York Times.

The company currently employs more than 200 people at its UK office, and has this week opened a new office space in central London, which is being billed as “laying down the foundations for Zoom as a successful hybrid business”, according to The Times.

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