As part of our research into the office of the future, we wanted to look at case studies of organizations that adopted a thoughtful and measured approach to rethinking their ways of working and office design. In comes Zoom!
Zoom is one of the world’s leading video conferencing tools. Its surge in popularity happened during the global pandemic, and today, Zoom has 300 million daily meeting participants. Zoom is a great tool for remote, hybrid, or distributed organizations providing their teams with a place to meet, connect, and collaborate. But more importantly (for the purposes of this article), as an organization, Zoom adopted a hybrid work model when Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
This case study sheds light on Zoom’s approach to redesigning their offices in support of their new hybrid model.
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Zoom’s workforce grew from 2,400 to 6,100 between February 2021 and December 2021. Moreover, while the company has 10 global offices, their employees are located in 35 countries. The crushing majority of their staff works remotely and Zoom’s workforce is more spread out and diverse than ever before.
When rethinking their employee experience, Zoom relied on employee feedback and data. Here are some key data points taken from their website:
According to the Momentive | Zoom Future of Work Poll 2022, commissioned by Zoom, employees value choice in how they work: 69% of workers say it’s important for them to be able to choose whether they work in person, remotely, or in a hybrid work model . Almost half (45%) say it’s likely they would look for a new job if they are not able to work in their ideal location.
At a global level, a hybrid work environment is overwhelmingly preferred to solely in-person and solely remote, according to a 2021 report based on Qualtrics Research that Zoom commissioned.
In the post-pandemic workplace, fewer than 20% of employees will choose to work from a company location as their primary workplace. (Gartner, “The Future of Work Requires Executive Leaders to Embrace Radical Flexibility,” Suzanne Adnams, 11 May 2021.)
In response to that, Zoom is adopting employee-led workstyles, allowing each individual to choose their preferred work location: In person, Remote, Hybrid, and adapting their offices to support these choices.
Office Design Approach
Zoom wanted to ensure that their redesigned offices would support the new ways of working of their workforce. Their guiding principles for their office redesign was to provide offices that were:
Dynamic hubs, focused on collaboration, socializing, and customer interactions
Technologically enabled offices that create the best employee experience for all
Safe and focused on well-being and health
To support its new working model, Zoom redesigned its offices in Denver, Sydney, Amsterdam, and San Jose, ahead of welcoming employees back into the office when the time was right.
Their approach was iterative, and they launched proof-of-concepts, redesigning one space at a time and observing how employees interacted with these new spaces before committing to a total office redesign.
Here is how they did it:
1. Launching a Proof-of-Concept (POC) Office
Zoom launched an office pilot in their Sydney, London, Denver, and Amsterdam offices which served as a proof of concept for their offices in other locations. Because each of these offices has a different office and visitor population (mix of departments, open to customers, etc.) they were able to learn from each of these.
Each office has a different look and feel based on the teams and needs. These proof of concepts were essential in formulating what works best and identifying patterns within different teams, how employees naturally engage with each other, and how technologies are leveraged. The POCs also enabled Zoom to envision what their office spaces should look like and how each space can contribute to optimizing communication, connectedness, and work. According to FoolProof, following this approach also assists in aligning stakeholders and generating champions or advocates of change.
2. Redesign One Space at a Time
To ensure the office redesign was done efficiently and effectively, Zoom did not remodel all of its spaces at once. They opted for a conservative approach, by remodeling one space at a time and learning as they went, rather than committing to a total redesign.
3. Redesigning & Repurposing
Since Zoom is operating through a hybrid working model, they understand that physical spaces will not have to cater to the full employee population at any given moment. Zoom leveraged on-site resources by reusing furniture and adapting areas to create new spaces. For example, in Denver, Zoom’s previous office design included physical desks and cubicles which were reduced to create open and collaborative spaces. The furniture was then reused in other areas.
4. Leveraging Technology
As a tech company, Zoom leveraged technologies to enhance experiences within their workspaces. In the physical workspace, Zoom’s offices were equipped with virtual receptionists. They introduced “Mobile Pop-Up Zoom Rooms” that can be moved to different rooms and floors, based on the need, and plug-and-play hardware solutions in newly created spaces and virtual meeting rooms. It is no surprise that Zoom is investing heavily in these technologies, especially when 98% of all meetings will have at least one remote attendee.
5. Reinforcing Company Culture
Working with distributed teams makes it difficult to connect with team members. According to a 2020 study, 70% of remote workers feel left out of the workplace. So, Zoom has a dedicated employee engagement team tasked with developing recurrent rituals, utilizing large spaces for events, and conducting team-building activities to foster long-lasting relationships.
As a result of their employee engagement efforts, Zoom’s offices across regions provide areas for collaboration, individual work, formal and informal meeting rooms, and spaces to unwind and connect with others. This is particularly important in building connections and creating a healthy company culture. According to McKinsey, organizations with a healthy culture generate three times greater total returns to shareholders.
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Zoom’s offices now include spaces that support various activities and functions in line with their employees’ needs.
1. Formal Meeting Spaces
Zoom designed meeting rooms to connect those choosing to work on-premise with those working remotely, too. According to Zoom’s internal survey, only 1% of employees wished to be on-premise full time with over 50% preferring flexible or hybrid working.
Virtual meeting room - Amsterdam Office
2. Informal Meeting Spaces
Informal meeting spaces are also common in Zoom’s offices where team members can connect, collaborate, brainstorm new ideas, and enjoy each other’s company!
Informal meeting space - Amsterdam Office
Informal meeting space - Denver Office
3. Spaces for Individual Work
Zoom’s Denver office provides meeting rooms for private, and personal meetings.
Personal meeting room - Denver Office.
Personal meeting room - San Jose Offices
Space of individual work - Amsterdam Office
4. Multipurpose Spaces to Relax & Hold Conferences
Zoom’s Santa Barbara offices provide employees with a kitchen area that can double as a space for team get-togethers, conferences, or presentations.
Conference room & Relaxation Area - San Jose Office
Conference room & Relax Area - San Jose Office
Leaders tend to think of an office redesign as a once in a long while project. However, Zoom’s approach truly showcases the importance of listening to your employees' needs and using data to make better decisions, as well as the value of iterating and adapting progressively.