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Zoom is returning to the office, but most workers aren’t coming back

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By Jon Swartz

The company that sustained the work-from-home movement looks to be going almost entirely remote.

Zoom Video Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM +5.21% on Wednesday announced it is rolling out a new return-to-office plan that allows the vast majority of its 4,400 employees to work from home by establishing three broad “workstyles” categories: hybrid (a majority of the workforce that lives within commuting distance and would come in occasionally), remote and in-person, the latter of which will comprise less than 2% of Zoom’s workforce. Zoom’s videoconferencing technology, a staple among thousands of companies for communicating and collaborating as the pandemic forced workers to shelter at their homes, will be a major source of interaction internally.

“Workers genuinely want choice, and they are choosing to continue to work at home,” Zoom Chief Financial Officer Kelly Steckelberg told MarketWatch. She cited an internal survey of 4,900 Americans, more than two-thirds of whom wanted the choice of where to work. About 85% who work remotely want it to stay that way, she added.

An internal survey of Zoom employees last summer showed just 1% preferred to work full time in an office, with over half leaning toward flexible, hybrid work. 

Some 3 million professional jobs went permanently remote in the fourth quarter of 2021, raising to 18% those type of work arrangements, according to data collected by Ladders. By the end of 2022, that number is expected to be close to 25%.

Zoom, which became one of the pandemic’s go-to technology solutions, shared its plans Wednesday at its first  Work Transformation Summit , a virtual gathering where industry leaders joined Zoom executives in a series of discussions and interactive sessions.

For more: How tech companies are bringing workers back to the office — Slowly and with ‘social’ incentives

Zoom’s limited reopening of offices in the U.S. is likely to start in Denver in the first quarter of the year, followed by its corporate headquarters in San Jose, Calif. Steckelberg, who relocated to central Texas, will work remotely, as will company executives in Southern California and the East Coast. Large gatherings of employees will happen only a few times a year for special occasions, she added.

The biggest concern about hybrid or remote work is preserving company culture while maintaining performance and collaboration, according to more than a third of executives polled in Deloitte’s 2021 Return to Workplaces  survey . More than half of remote workers (55%) would consider quitting if their companies tried to force their return to offices, according to  research  from Morning Consult.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. /zigman2/quotes/201998588/composite HPE -1.27% executives told MarketWatch last year that the company would offer a similar division of workers to Zoom: edge workers, who work primarily remotely but can come into an office for collaboration or social interaction, and office workers, who work primarily onsite. Apple Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -3.28% , Microsoft Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -1.33% , Google parent Alphabet Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -6.09% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -6.20% and others have postponed their returns indefinitely, acknowledging employees’ calls for flexibility.

See also: Big Tech’s big problem — Let employees stay home from expensive campuses or ‘risk losing 30% of their workers’

Last week, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -8.91% delayed employees’ return to its U.S. offices to March 28 from Jan. 31, and will require employees to get COVID-19 booster shots. Companies like Meta pushing for a return to the office have been among the most persistent in their vaccine requirements. JPMorgan Chase & Co. /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM +0.43% Chief Executive Jamie Dimon recently said the bank would fire unvaccinated employees.

/zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 93.98
+4.65 +5.21%
Volume: 20.21M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
20.77
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$26.72 billion
Rev. per Employee
$604,076
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/zigman2/quotes/201998588/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 14.33
-0.19 -1.27%
Volume: 5.02M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
5.13
Dividend Yield
3.36%
Market Cap
$18.86 billion
Rev. per Employee
$461,324
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/zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 138.42
-4.69 -3.28%
Volume: 61.11M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
22.49
Dividend Yield
0.66%
Market Cap
$2316.26 billion
Rev. per Employee
$2.51M
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/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 257.19
-3.46 -1.33%
Volume: 14.87M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
26.82
Dividend Yield
0.96%
Market Cap
$1949.41 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.06M
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/zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 2,093.95
-135.81 -6.09%
Volume: 2.71M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
18.87
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1469.51 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.72M
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/zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 2,094.89
-138.44 -6.20%
Volume: 2.15M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
18.88
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1469.51 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.72M
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/zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 178.75
-17.48 -8.91%
Volume: 35.74M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
13.47
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$531.10 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.66M
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/zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 125.13
+0.53 +0.43%
Volume: 11.24M
May 24, 2022 1:35p
P/E Ratio
9.29
Dividend Yield
3.20%
Market Cap
$365.96 billion
Rev. per Employee
$463,153
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