The emphasis younger generations are placing on a work-life balance is “healthy” and speaks to the longevity of hybrid work, says Harry Moseley, the chief information officer of Zoom Video Communications, Inc. ZM-Q
In an interview with The Globe and Mail ahead of an appearance at Running Remote, a Montreal conference on remote and hybrid work, Mr. Moseley said there was a general consensus among Zoom clients that the era of working from the office five days a week was over.
“Younger workers are prioritizing their life over work and over compensation. A lot of people have said that those water cooler conversations we used to enjoy at the office, whilst intellectually interesting, are a complete waste of time,” he said.
The continued success of Zoom as a business is contingent upon the dominance of remote and hybrid work. The company’s revenue exploded during the first year of the pandemic, as employees, businesses and students adapted to working from home and began relying on videoconferencing technology. Zoom’s annual revenue soared 560 per cent to more than $4-billion between the end of 2019 and the end of 2021.
But the company’s most recent revenue and profit forecasts, in February, signalled some turbulence ahead due to fewer new users on its core Meetings platform, as well as competition from other videoconferencing giants such as Cisco’s Webex and Microsoft’s Teams platform. In fact, Zoom’s market value peaked in October, 2020, at US$159-billion, and since then the company has lost more than three-quarters of its value, partly due to the slow unwinding of the tech bubble and investor trepidation about an eventual return to the office.
When asked about these challenges, Mr. Moseley said Zoom has always been a first mover in the world of videoconferencing and any innovations the company makes to its platform tend to be immediately replicated by competitors. Most recently, in an attempt to make its platform more user-friendly, Zoom launched Smart Gallery, a feature that creates individual video feeds of employees gathered in the same room to give remote participants a clearer view of each person.
“One of the biggest challenges with the hybrid model is how do you maintain that equality between the people who are in the office and people who aren’t. This Smart Gallery feature makes you feel like every participant in the call or meeting is equal,” Mr. Moseley said.
As a proponent of remote and hybrid work, he said it would have been a privilege to spend a greater part of his working years away from the office and with his children.
But whether or not employers are going to permanently embrace hybrid and remote work remains to be seen and could directly affect Zoom’s growth. A Deloitte report released Wednesday showed that the majority of Gen Z and millennial workers (75 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively) prefer hybrid work to just working remotely, but less than half currently have the option to do so.
Currently, according to the report, 51 per cent of Gen Z workers in Canada and 43 per cent of millennials work in a fixed location such as an office, but 57 per cent and 51 per cent of those age groups would prefer a hybrid work arrangement.
Younger workers, the report said, tend to value flexible work because it helps them save money and gives them more free time with friends and family.
For employers, however, one of the benefits of a permanent hybrid work model is cost. Research by flexible workspace company IWG found that, in Canada, hybrid work could save organizations an average of $13,000 per employee each year. IWG’s modelling suggests, for example, that a major Canadian bank with 89,000 employees could save $1.1-billion a year.
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