"We cannot have a great conversation. We cannot debate each other well because everyone tends to be very friendly when you join a Zoom call."
Eyebrows were raised when Zoom, the video conferencing service that became ubiquitous during the pandemic, announced that some employees would be coming back to the office, reversing an earlier stated position that less than 2 percent of its staff would be required to come back.
Now a leaked recording of a meeting with the head Zoomer in charge has leaked, Insider reports, revealing the surprising — and yet not-so-surprising — reasons for recalling some workers back to offices.
"Quite often, you come up with great ideas, but when we are all on Zoom, it's really hard," Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told workers during an August 3rd meeting. "We cannot have a great conversation. We cannot debate each other well because everyone tends to be very friendly when you join a Zoom call."
Besides the idea that innovation is better fostered in person, Yuan said office work is important because it builds trust among employees.
"Trust is a foundation for everything," he said. "Without trust, we will be slow."
This is, to be clear, absolutely amazing: the company that makes perhaps the most widely known software for remote working is now claiming to his own workers that remote workers can't be trusted.
Other companies have mandated a return to offices in the post-pandemic era, including Amazon, Meta, Disney, Google and more.
But the recall of employees by Zoom has a special kind of irony to it, since the company made its name as the backbone of remote work during the pandemic so effectively that its name became a verb.
"Zoom showed their hand when they announced that anybody who lives within 50 miles of the office has to show up there," posted Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, a professional development and consulting firm. "If you hate commuting enough, you could move 51 miles away. It’s not about their culture. It’s about filling up the office space they’re paying for,"
X user @ninas_Mktg, who called herself a product marketing leader, posted, "You can absolutely build connections with colleagues as a remote employee. I've done. It's more than possible."
Despite whatever drubbing the company may receive for recalling workers, Zoom is now a mainstay in office culture and doesn't look like it won't be dethroned from computers and laptops anytime soon, especially as hybrid and flexible work arrangements become popular.
But it's undeniably funny that the CEO of Zoom is experiencing Zoom fatigue as well. Maybe Yuan is correct that working in the office is better for collaboration and productivity versus fully remote — some research does support that idea — but the debate is nowhere near settled.
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