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Zoom cashed in on WFH—but even they want employees to return to office now



The company that helped to usher in the remote work revolution now doesn’t want its workers home all the time.

Zoom Video Communications is telling employees who live within 50 miles of an office to work in-person at least two days a week, reports Insider.

“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 spokesperson for the company said in a statement.

Just last year, Zoom suggested that the majority of its employees would work a hybrid schedule, with just 2% working in-person full-time. “Workers genuinely want choice, and they are choosing to continue to work at home,” Zoom chief financial officer Kelly Steckelberg told MarketWatch at the time.

Zoom is the latest tech company to cite the need for in-person collaboration to ask for some amount of office time. Executives at Meta, Salesforce and Google, in discussing the benefits of remote work versus in-person work, have argued that working in an office builds trust, encourages the creation of new ideas, and helps train new hires. 

The end of the COVID pandemic and the growing return to the office is weighing on Zoom’s business. Shares in the company are down by over 85% since their peak in October 2020.

The company laid off 1,300 workers, or about 15% of its workforce, in early February. Zoom abruptly fired its president Greg Tomb “without cause” a month later.

Zoom reported $1.1 billion in revenue for the quarter ending April 30, up 3% from the same period a year earlier. Yet net income fell sharply to $15.4 million, from $113.6 million a year earlier. The company is now shifting to enterprise sales, as growth in sales to individual users stagnates.

How long will remote work last?

U.S. companies have asked around 1.5 million workers to start coming into the office more often starting this fall, as companies tighten their expectations around office attendance and hybrid working schedules.

Even the U.S. federal government is starting to bring workers back in. Cabinet “agencies will be implementing increases in the amount of in-person work,” White House chief of staff Jeff Zients wrote to cabinet members on Friday, reports Axios.

“We are returning to in-person work because it is critical to the well-being of our teams and will enable us to deliver better results for the American people,” Zients wrote.

Despite the push to return to the office, occupancy remains around 50%, according to data from Kastle Systems, which tracks swipe-card access in major metropolitan areas. Workers have resisted the call to return to the office, either through protest or just quitting.

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