How Zoom Is Approaching Our Next Phase of Work
Many are wondering what’s next for a workforce that’s successfully operated from home since the early days of 2020. Leaders everywhere are examining if and how they should have their employees return to a physical office. But what’s the right way to address such a complicated issue?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to returning to the office, but we want to share how we’re thinking about this issue at Zoom.
What we know
How and when a workforce returns to the office will be unique to every organization. We’re all still learning. A few things we do know:
- For the past year and a half, employees around the world braved unique circumstances, new challenges, and rapid transformation — and many of them did so successfully using the Zoom platform.
- Flexibility remains a top priority for many employees, including our own. When we polled Zoomies, only 1% expressed wanting to work full-time in the office. Over half preferred to be hybrid, a quarter wanted to work full-time from home, and the rest were mostly full-time remote already.
- Any decision we make at Zoom ladders into one goal: maintaining a mutual sense of trust between leadership and employees, as higher trust leads to a happier, more productive workforce.
Employees doing their jobs successfully from home for so long is a feat employers need to reflect in their approach moving forward. We now know what’s possible, so it’s time to open up a dialogue to identify what your employees value and need from this next phase of work.
Establishing mutual trust is the only way you’ll determine the best approach for your workforce.
Creating that trust
Trust is earned through mutual understanding. We at Zoom have made it a point to constantly engage our employees on return-to-office planning and create a safe space for them to express any concerns regarding potential plans.
Our recommendations for helping to establish that trust within your teams:
- Be consistent and transparent about how you communicate. We regularly update Zoom employees on potential plans during our bi-weekly all-hands meetings.
- Get specific with the input you request. Find out how many days employees want to come into the office, what activities they’d prefer in-person and remote, and other role-specific requirements.
- Listen to your employees. Show you value their opinion, understand their concerns, and let them help you guide your approach.
- Be candid about the complexities of such a decision and the inherent need for experimentation and learning. There’s still so much uncertainty around the safe office reopening, and your teams will better understand the delays in setting a policy.
Our approach to the next phase of work
The fact is, the Zoom platform provides video, phone, chat, room, and events solutions that have enabled our own remote teams to successfully support our customers during the most demanding time in Zoom’s 10-year history.
Given this remote success, we are not rushing our office reopenings. We don’t plan to open any given office until we can do so without personal protective equipment or social distancing.
So at Zoom, we’re preparing a hybrid approach — strategically mixing remote and in-office work — but we’re still experimenting with how that even looks. Admittedly, it’s not easy.
We opened our Sydney, Australia, office this summer, but temporarily closed it soon after as COVID-19 threatened the area. We plan to reopen again when it is safe, but this could impact plans to reopen a second location this fall.
We’re carefully listening and learning, but ultimately, our office reopenings will be one component of a flexible, hybrid approach.
Trust and technology are the cornerstones
For any return to office, employees must trust that their employers care about their safety and well-being. Conversely, employers have to trust their employees can perform when they aren’t in the office. The right technology serves both and benefits the entire organization.
We trust the hybrid approach because the Zoom platform enables it, with features like Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery designed to create an inclusive experience for both in-person and remote workers. Through reliable connection, real-time collaboration, and relentless innovation, Zoom helps foster the mutual sense of trust critical for teams to do their best work from anywhere.
Trust has been and will continue to be the linchpin for our strategy at Zoom. Without it, we can’t operationalize any approach we ultimately decide to take.
For more on Zoom’s perspective on the future of work, check out Aparna Bawa’s fireside chat with Protocol below, stay up to date on the latest thought leadership on the hybrid workforce, and check out upcoming events in our Building Forward webinar series.