In a statement, Zoom said it’s now enforcing a “structured hybrid approach,” meaning that employees who live near an office “need to be onsite two days a week” because it’s “most effective” for the video-conferencing service.
“As a company, we are in a better position to use our own technologies, continue to innovate, and support our global customers. We’ll continue to leverage the entire Zoom platform to keep our employees and dispersed teams connected and working efficiently,” the company said.
The new policy, which will be rolled out in August and September, was first reported by the New York Times, which said Zoom CEO Eric Yuan fielded questions from employees unhappy with the new policy during a Zoom meeting last week.
Zoom, based in San Jose, California, saw explosive growth during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic as companies scrambled to shift to remote work, and even families and friends turned to the platform for virtual gatherings. But that growth has stagnated as the pandemic threat has ebbed.
Recalling Zoom layoffs
Shares of Zoom Video Communications Inc. have tumbled hard since peaking early in the pandemic, from $559 apiece in October 2020, to below $70 on Tuesday. Shares have slumped more than 10% to start the month of August. In February, Zoom laid off about 1,300 people, or about 15% of its workforce.
Putting aside the irony, Zoom isn’t excluded from the return to office trend that’s sweeping tech companies. In recent months, Google, Amazon and Salesforce have enacted similar policies, ending a Covid-era approach that gave employees more freedom to work from home. However, businesses have faced some pushback from employees after workers grew accustomed to greater flexibility.
Even the White House is cracking down on remote work. Last week, it asked Cabinet agencies to bring federal workers back into the office more frequently in the coming months, according to an internal email obtained by CNN.
White House chief of staff Jeff Zients directive, which cites the administration’s in-person posture for the last two years, is the strongest indicator yet that it believes in-office attendance is critical for agencies to carry out its agenda, with a critical election around the corner.
Zoom (ZM) has had its own difficulties as demand wanes following a pandemic-fueled surge. In February, Zoom (ZM) cut approximately 15% of its staff, amounting to about 1,300 employees, after growing too quickly. Members of the executive leadership team also reduced their base salaries by 20% for the coming fiscal year and forfeited their fiscal year 2023 bonuses.
More than most companies, the videoconferencing service came to define the early days of the pandemic, as many turned to its platform to video chat with friends and colleagues during lockdowns. By mid-2020, Zoom reported skyrocketing revenue fueled by a spike in business customers from the many companies forced to turn to remote work.
Shares of the company are up about 4% for the year.