For the Next Phase of Work, Zoomies Get to Choose Their Workstyle
Today we’re hosting our Work Transformation Summit, a half-day virtual event designed to provide you and your organization with meaningful strategies, creative approaches, and innovative solutions for redefining work.
In the spirit of promoting a healthy discourse related to work transformation, we wanted to share the latest on how we’re approaching our own plans. We shared initial details of our next phase of work in an August 2021 blog post, and we constantly assess any decisions that might affect our employees.
Over the past year, we conducted a comprehensive employee survey with regular follow-ups and engaged in peer research to make thoughtful decisions on how to move forward in an evolving world of work. Two priorities were immediately clear: keeping our employees safe and supporting them through a meaningful employee experience.
So, we wanted to share how we’re addressing these priorities through the creation of Zoom’s own “workstyles,” which will be foundational to our future-of-work plans when offices reopen.
Planning for the future of work
We work to make thoughtful, scalable decisions that fully take our employees and their needs into account. And we know these needs are much different now. Our employee base looks a lot different than it did at the start of the pandemic:
- Today, 98% of our employees are working remotely. (The other 2% includes employees whose roles primarily consist of on-site work like managing office spaces and supporting physical equipment.)
- Our workforce grew from 2,400 to 6,100 employees from February 2020 to December 2021.
- We’re more geographically dispersed, with more than 10 global office locations and employees in more than 35 countries around the world.
In short, we’re a much larger and more spread out company than we were two years ago.
Our own internal survey of Zoom employees in summer 2021 showed that just 1% wanted to work full time in a Zoom office, with over half indicating a preference for flexible, hybrid work, where they can choose to work in the office or at home on any given day. This preference is in line with additional research:
- According to the Momentive | Zoom Future of Work Poll 2022, commissioned by Zoom, employees value choice in how they work: 69% of workers say it’s important for them to be able to choose whether they work in person, remotely, or in a hybrid work model . Almost half (45%) say it’s likely they would look for a new job if they are not able to work in their ideal location.
- At a global level, a hybrid work environment is overwhelmingly preferred to solely in-person and solely remote, according to a 2021 report based on Qualtrics Research that Zoom commissioned.
- In the post-pandemic workplace, fewer than 20% of employees will choose to work from a company location as their primary workplace. (Gartner, “The Future of Work Requires Executive Leaders to Embrace Radical Flexibility,” Suzanne Adnams, 11 May 2021.)
One of the most notable takeaways from our internal survey, however, was how engaged our employees felt working from home during perhaps the busiest period in Zoom’s 10-year history.
Our overall engagement score was well above the industry benchmark, and employees also gave exceptionally high marks to their managers. Even while working remotely, our employees shared that they feel supported, have clear direction about their priorities, and get feedback that helps them improve their performance.
We are able to make Zoom’s workstyles employee-led because we trust our teams — our individual contributors as well as our managers — to do their best work from wherever they feel the most comfortable.
What’s guiding these decisions?
Every company’s own unique culture, business model, and employee structure will determine how they proceed in this era of work transformation. The future of work at Zoom will be based on enabling a flexible working environment for our employees. Work is no longer just a place but a space where we come together to collaborate in different ways.
Modern working arrangements that accommodate our increasingly dispersed global employees — coupled with tools, resources, and principles to guide our new work reality — will be crucial. And the Zoom platform will be critical to the success of these arrangements.
As we build out our plans and operationalize our workstyles, these will be the pillars guiding us at Zoom:
- Connection: How do we get work done while continuing to deliver happiness to our customers?
- People: How do we make work inclusive for every employee?
- Experience: How do we evolve processes — and build new ones — to elevate our employees’ experiences?
To make this successful, it is essential that our employees are:
- Empowered to succeed in their roles, regardless of workstyle or location
- Enabled through dynamic, comprehensive rewards aligned to workstyle and location
- Happy in an equitable and inclusive culture and work environment for all
We’ll help support our employees in workspaces that are:
- Dynamic hubs designed for socialization, collaboration, and customer-centric support that showcase Zoom solutions
- Equipped to leverage technology and systems that foster the best experience for employees and customers
- Safeguarded with a strong focus on employee well-being, health, and safety
In setting this direction, we have adhered to the guiding principles we set at the beginning of the pandemic — we won’t reopen any offices until we can do so without the need for PPE and social distancing, and only when we are equipped to safely open.
What are Zoom’s workstyles?
Going forward, some of us will always work from a home office. Others will always work from a Zoom office. For the rest, it will be a mix of both. These workstyles designate where and how an employee will work.
When it’s safe to reopen the offices and employees are comfortable, Zoom’s workstyles will be:
- In-person: Employees in roles or hired with the purpose to be in the office daily, as defined by the role and responsibilities
- Remote: Employees who were originally hired to work remotely or who have moved their permanent residence beyond a reasonable commute from their closest Zoom office
- Hybrid: Employees within a reasonable commuting distance who choose to go into the office a certain number of days a week or month
Typically, an employee will choose their own workstyle. We feel offering employee-led workstyles is the best way to continue delivering happiness not only to our customers but to current and future Zoomies.
What to know about Zoom’s workstyles
While a number of organizations are building policies around these core working environments, we believe Zoom is unique because our workstyles are setting a new standard for employee satisfaction. These employee-led choices will:
- Be self-reported: Unless the role requires that they be in person, employees will choose which workstyle is right for them. Zoomies will be asked to discuss their workstyle choice with their managers.
- Be independent of past working arrangements: Employees can choose a workstyle that differs from any previous arrangement. If an employee moved away from an office during the pandemic, for instance, they are not required to move back. Those who reside near an office also can choose to work remotely.
- Be flexible: Being a remote employee doesn’t mean someone can never go into a Zoom office. Team members that feel comfortable doing so will be allowed to meet in person on a periodic basis subject to Zoom’s health and safety policies.
- Not be tied to career success: We will continue to train and enable managers to support dispersed teams, with the goal of ensuring all employees are treated equitably and receive the same career development opportunities regardless of their workstyle.
An important tentpole for this new approach: employees get to choose their workstyle. One of the biggest concerns from our employees considering a hybrid workstyle was whether Zoom will mandate how many days or which days they need to be in a Zoom office. The answer is no.
“Every organization is trying to adapt at this point. But we’re seeing so many struggle to navigate the process because their employees are left out of the decision-making,” said Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. “Zoom’s focus on empowering its global workforce to help build out the strategy — and enabling employees to collaborate from anywhere using its innovative platform — will be a model other organizations look to as they chart their own hybrid work path.”
First, a proof of concept
Given our principle on PPE and social distancing, we haven’t announced any formal dates for designating workstyles internally.
However, we have an existing pilot underway in our Sydney, Australia, office, which serves as a proof of concept for reopening other Zoom locations and engaging in workstyles. For our Sydney employees — and all other Zoomies around the globe — the Zoom platform is fundamental in enabling effective communication and collaboration across workstyles.
We also will continue to listen to our global employee base to meet their needs as we navigate our new workstyles together.
Learn about the future of work
This is our view on how we’re moving forward in the next phase of work. We invite you to discover how other organizations, analysts, and team leaders are approaching this important topic at today’s Work Transformation Summit. It’s free to attend, and you will see firsthand some of the technology we’re building for the future of work at Zoom — and for organizations around the world.