Zoom, the company whose videoconferencing tool allowed millions of employees to work from home during the global COVID pandemic, is mandating that its workers return to the office.
“We believe that a structured hybrid approach – meaning a set number of days employees that live near an office need to be onsite– is most effective for Zoom,” the company said in a statement, adding that Zoom will “continue to leverage the entire Zoom platform to keep our employees and dispersed teams connected and working efficiently.”
According to a report from Business Insider, Zoom is requiring employees who live near one of the company’s offices — a distance the company is defining as within 50 miles — to be physically present in the office twice a week.
However, Zoom didn’t respond to questions about how the company settled on the 50-mile radius requirement, whether employees will be able to apply for exemptions, and if attendance will be tied to employee performance reviews, as Google announced its return to office policy would be earlier this year.
The decision comes two weeks before Zoom is set to announce financial results for the second quarter of its 2024 fiscal year. During the previous quarter, despite experiencing falling revenue from online sign-ups, Zoom said revenue from enterprise customers—those engaged with its direct sales team or partners—represented the biggest growth area, up 13% year on year and accounting for 57% of the total revenue.
In an earnings call after the results had been published, CEO Eric Yuan told analysts that that the company would be looking into ways it could benefit its customers by deploying artificial intelligence.
As a consequence of the pivot to AI, Zoom’s research and development expenses grew by 25% year on year to approximately $106 million, with the company’s CFO Kelly Steckelberg directly attributing this increase to the company’s investments in technology such as AI.
In February of this year, Zoom announced it was laying off 1,300 employees, about 15% of its workforce, owing to the effects of the pandemic subsiding and global economic uncertainty affecting customer spending, Yuan wrote in a blog post at the time.
In-office manadates face employee pushback
Over the past year, a growing number of companies have started to require their employees to partially return to the office, for an average of three days a week. While studies have shown that most bosses believe remote work hurts worker productivity, a recent study of global knowledge workers undertaken by Atlassian found that this isn’t necessarily true.
The research found that in-office mandates are unpopular with employees, with the perceived decline in productivity stemming from companies failing to provide their workers with the right remote working tools, rather than the physical separation of employees.