Rewind to 2020, where countless restrictions were announced to be set in place, intervening in human interactions, people were interrupted from carrying out daily tasks, education was challenged, and career progression came to an undetermined halt.
Amidst all this, technology became a lifesaver, bringing along numerous benefits, in hopes of helping people maintain relationships and socialise using options made available, as well as helping the continuation of education and a proportion of jobs.
A few companies were able to satisfy the needs of people, starring video conferencing applications including Zoom, one of the most downloaded during lockdown, and runner up Google Meet, a tough competitor of the ‘online meetings’ pioneer. Microsoft teams also increased in popularity, especially for academic institutions, enabling lessons to take place, and students to communicate with their tutors.
Zoom downloads and revenue spiked since the kick-off of lockdown, although shares have recently dropped, its popularity continues to expand, and the idea of technology implementation in workplaces is becoming more and more present.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zoom, Eric S. Yuan, made a supporting statement regarding the future of the video messaging application, ‘We are energised to help lead the evolution to hybrid work that allows greater flexibility, productivity, and happiness to both in person and virtual connections.’
During the first weeks of lockdown, employers and academic bodies were left with no choice but to work remotely, others ended up losing their occupation, and were left with a void as they sought human interaction. Demand for networking programs was launched and people were in need of the perfect application which would be cost-effective, include all necessary features, and most importantly be reliable.
Fortunately, Zoom came to employers’ attention, as the application provided corporate quality video conferencing options. Although its popularity was gradually increasing for years before lockdown, taking the face of many competitors, Zoom became most known once people began searching for similar applications online.
Zoom managed to grow in sales by 326%, reaching a revenue of $2.6 billion in 2020.
However, the software’s competitors managed to catch up within the last two years, delivering a wider variety of better features, and cutting costs after a predicted recession. Microsoft Teams offers free membership to their video conferencing feature if users purchase their Microsoft Office package. This brings great competition to Zoom since Zoom requires employers to pay a monthly fee in order to benefit from greater features.
As competition ramps up and companies begin looking for more affordable solutions to their video conferencing needs, Zoom may begin to flag.
Currently, the world is slowly returning to its old ways, lockdown is considered old news, and most industries are recovering. Although this shift is somewhat unsettling for many, with some anxiously awaiting another global phenomenon to strike, there is no choice left but to look forward and settle back into normalcy.
Although hundreds of workplaces have moved back to office working, some pandemic habits persist. Many employers have chosen to prolong their Zoom memberships, and implement the software into the system in order to promote efficacy.
Zoom has become the very definition of video conferencing and contributed to the digitalisation of meetings and gatherings. Many organisations now opt for meeting over Zoom to discuss future strategies, meet with clients, and even hold interviews. Even as in-person events (both professional and otherwise) resume, many are still providing the option to join remotely via Zoom.
Zoom is still working closely to introduce new exciting features to its software. It has been announced that one of Zoom’s applications, Welo, will soon let users recreate collaborative digital spaces in meetings, essentially creating a ‘mini metaverse.’ Another addition involves ‘elevating the share screen mode’ for a more collaborative option.
Despite having the option of returning to face to face interactions, hybrid work is on the rise and paving the way for a future work system.
With this, the regular office meetings and corporate environment will undergo major changes. Remote working is noticeably more convenient since it offers liberty and flexibility, the convenience of Zoom video conferencing also encourages this due to the various beneficial features it includes. The application frequently brings out new elements targeted towards corporate purposes, which enhance user experience and leave no room to doubt the efficiency of working from home.
While the list of benefits continues, this mode of working could have a detrimental impact on human interaction and likely result in a disproportionate work-life balance. The possibility of networking and creating professional relationships decreases and a lack of community and teamwork is provoked.
The significant drop in staff in the office may influence a negative atmosphere in the workplace, and a potential division may occur. Since remote workers would mainly be present during necessary meetings, they may unknowingly isolate themselves and not form any particular friendships, this could result in less colleague support and feeling unmotivated due to frustration met when stuck on a task.
Since the beginning of 2022, Zoom has lost approximately half of its market capitalisation, dropping from $54 billion to $27 billion. As competitors improve and the return to the (hybrid) office continues, Zoom’s time in the spotlight may be coming to an end.
About the author: Andreea Bejan is a contributing features writer and aspiring journalist, with a passion for entertainment and lifestyle writing, and an interest in technological advancements and international affairs.