Zoomed in and out

“We are still majority-remote, but I think a lot of people forget our many products and solutions that are only designed for in-office work.”

What products are they talking about? Have you met anyone who knows a Zoom tool for in-office use?

So Saxon and his C-level peers told workers that if they live within 50 miles of a Zoom office, they must come in two days a week, structured according to team.

I’ve worked with team members who were required to go into the office because of their promiximity to the company’s commercial real esate. The result? They sat in Zoom meetings, alone, and talked to me on Zoom in my home office hundreds of miles away.

The colleagues they worked with were not in the same office, same floor, or even in the same state.

Gone are the days of every team member sitting in a war room, wrestling things together.

Sure, this can be done, it has been done, and I was part of it in the past. But you immediately run into a limitation when you require a 50 mile radius for your team. People leave, move on, find better work, their partners or children need to relocate; life happens.

Locking a team member to a locality forces a harsh decision on their part. Eventually something comes up and they may need to relocate.

One company I worked with could not find anyone in their locality, and had to open up for remote to a specific type of role. The result? They found what they needed by opening up the range.

So, how do you solve the issue of wanting people to be together in person? Invest in your team, fly them all to one location a few times a year. It’s amazing how a few days can bring so much benefit to cohesion and connection. You don’t need to be locked in a room together for years to get the benefit of in-person time.

Then there’s Saxon himself, who works fully remotely from Austin. “I think I can manage people at Zoom effectively while working fully remotely,”

Does this person hear themself? The absolute hyporcisy of this statement.

Those two in-office days for local workers are filled with meaningful in-person work, like training and all-hands meetings, with a simple after-work drink added in. “But I don’t think people need that all the time,” Saxon noted. “A sprinkle of in-person work every so often can really help, but again, we found people coming into the office to do their individual contributor work. In that case, there’s no real difference if you’re sitting on a Zoom call.”

This isn’t about cohesion and connection. This is about control. Let people meet up when smaller teams need it; not at the top-down behest of a disconnected executive; that’s not how great work gets done.

“When we had a more laissez-faire approach to coming in on certain days, it was sub-optimized, and we heard that from employees. So we said, ‘Okay, well, let’s try this different model.’ I think it’s been a good success.”

Success from what metric? This is absolutely ridiculous. Either people are doing a great job or they’re not. Their in-person time, mandated by someone who wants to see butts in seat, has little to do with performance.

It feels like Zoom is trying to have it both ways.

I know I’ve just spoken to the positives of remote; there are also positives to in-person. Depending on your stage of career, life, or personality, being in the same room with others may be the perfect thing that you need. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and by mandating who goes where when you’re guaranteeing that you’ll limit who you keep around.

(Via Fortune | Apple News)