Is Zoom really forcing its employees back to the office? Not really.

General News
Woman working from home on a Zom call.

Back in February this year, Zoom was already asking its people to come into the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays: Everyone goes into the office. They have meetings, social events, presentations and training. There is a good reason to go in. All the face-to-face activities are pushed into those two days.

Then on August 8th the world’s media finally picked up on this with headlines like:

“The Death of Remote Work? Zoom orders workers to return to the office at least twice a week.”1

“This company makes money from you working remotely, but wants its employees back in the office.”2

But the story is more nuanced than these headlines portray – what Zoom’s decision really shows is that hybrid work — neither fully remote work nor  five-days-a-week in-person work — is the new normal.

The hybrid working sweet spot learned?

The Washing Post cited a recent study suggesting that one to two days a week in the office is “plausibly the sweet spot, where workers enjoy flexibility and yet are not as isolated”.3

A survey carried out in July commissioned by the Los Angeles Times found that 27% of respondents said their companies had become more flexible about work-from-home policies over the last year; just 15% said their employer had become stricter.4

Employers face a tough choice.

The Wall Street Journal estimates about 75% of Zoom’s employees had been working fully remotely as recently as last year. It will be interesting to see if some of them leave Zoom rather than go into the office as suggested by Business Insider.5 Companies like Zoom, Microsoft, Apple, Disney and others face a tough choice if they force workers to come back to the office.

“78% of full-time workforce members who support working remotely would sacrifice something in exchange: 42% would change jobs or industries; 35% would work outside of core hours, such as during the evenings or weekends; 28% would work at a job they are less passionate about or find less interesting; and 15% would take a pay cut.6

During the pandemic, knowledge workers realised that they did not need to be in the office five days a week. Robert C. Pozen, a senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote that if employees organise their time well, there will be days when it makes sense for them to work from home.7

Conclusion

Working from home means having an Internet connection that you can rely on. No matter how many days you work from home, Ottie will keep you connected.

References:

1https://www.cnbc.com/video/2023/08/08/the-death-of-remote-work-zoom-orders-workers-to-return-to-office-at-least-twice-a-week.html

2https://www.deseret.com/2023/8/8/23824379/zoom-calls-workers-back-to-the-office-hybrid-work

3Actually, Zoom’s In-Office Policy Shows the Power of Hybrid Work – The Washington Post

4https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2023-08-03/the-post-covid-19-back-to-the-office-push-has-stalled-in-hybrid-mode

5https://www.businessinsider.com/return-to-office-hybrid-work-model-quit-jobs-2023-8?r=US&IR=T

6https://www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/hybrid-remote-and-4-day-workweek-survey/

7https://hbr.org/2021/05/what-mix-of-wfh-and-office-time-is-right-for-you

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