Zoom is demanding its employees return to the office. It seems not even the popular video-conferencing platform is willing to stick to remote working.
Business Insider reports that Zoom employees who work near one of the company’s offices are now required to trek in for at least two days per week, ending the exclusively remote lifestyle some workers have become accustomed to.
“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,” a Zoom spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider. “We’ll continue to leverage the entire Zoom platform to keep our employees and dispersed teams connected and working efficiently.”
Zoom has a rather loose definition of exactly what constitutes “near.” The company’s new hybrid policy requires employees to work in Zoom’s offices if they live within 50 miles (80km) of one, which is not a distance the average person would describe as close.
Ironically, Zoom’s own 2022 survey found that 69 percent of workers considered it important that they be able to choose for themselves whether to work remotely, on-site, or a mix of the two. Further, 45 percent said they would likely look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to work from their ideal location.
Zoom’s policy change probably has more than a few employees exploring their options, which may be a good idea even absent this new directive. Zoom laid off approximately 1,300 employees in February after its net profit plummeted from its pandemic-induced high, while founder and CEO Eric Yuan also took a temporary pay cut of 98 percent.
Millions of businesses switched to remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Zoom becoming the preferred video-conferencing platform for many. However, as numerous workplaces return to the office or adopt hybrid models, reliance on video calls has crashed and brought Zoom’s revenue down with it.
Like many others, Zoom appears to be hoping that artificial intelligence will help ease its woes. The company added several new features to its AI-powered tool Zoom IQ in March, while Stack Diary spotted a recent update to Zoom’s Terms of Service that allows it to use customers’ content to train AI. There’s no way to opt out, either.
Evolving their product to take advantage of the latest technologies may appear to make sense from a business perspective. But when so many people still use Zoom for medical appointments, sensitive meetings, and other private matters they’d like to keep private, slipping in such changes might just make users trust the platform less.