Creating The New World Of Hybrid Work: An Interview With Zoom’s Phil Perry

Phil Perry, Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom, speaks to CEO Today about how the platform is continuing to help create the new world of hybrid work.

Thanks to video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, the need for in-person meetings has been timely reduced amid the pandemic. However, do you think there are some occasions where in-person meetings are still necessary? And, if so, does Zoom have plans to further fill this gap in the future?

1. Hybrid working is now considered a necessity for many employees. At Zoom, we believe that a strong balance between office and remote working is the best way forward for organisations and individuals. It is completely right that we acknowledge the benefits that in-person meetings can have for professional development, networking, personal collaboration and maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. In-person meetings allow for direct human connections, and are important for employees at all levels, especially for young professionals who are in the process of building their careers and the skills they need going forward.

Zoom is fully on board with offices reopening in 2022 if it is safe to do so. In fact, we’re encouraging our own employees to return to the office by preparing for a hybrid approach that strategically mixes remote and in-office work so that employees have flexibility.

2. Innovations around hybrid working are important for businesses, making this a key priority for Zoom. We are driven to solve clients’ problems and have delivered more than 400 features within the previous year alone, including many industry firsts such as Virtual Backgrounds and Gallery View. A full 20% of these new features and innovations were in response to immediate customer needs and feedback.

Increased focus on remote and hybrid working has driven us to introduce Zoom Rooms, Zoom Apps, Zoom Events and Zoom Phone, in addition to a number of other key updates. Specifically,  Zoom Rooms are modern, purpose-built workspaces with Zoom software and hardware features for hybrid teams to interact with one another, allowing rich interaction whether employees are collaborating from the office or remotely. As employees return to the office, businesses can ensure workspaces help them feel connected with their remote counterparts, whilst ensuring these remote employees enjoy an equitable communications experience with Zoom Rooms. 

Zoom Events Conference is a new event type that “gives event planners the ability to host multi-day, multi-session conferences on an all-in-one event platform”. In your opinion, what are the most useful features of this new event type?

One of the most useful features Zoom Events provides is its solution to ticketing and registration. Users can host their events and secure them with customisable registration and built-in ticketing options. Organisations can set the number of free and paid tickets available per event with ease, which is a major logistic obstacle, even in a virtual world. 

Additionally, Zoom Events brings in effective data analysis tools. Users can track registration, attendance, ticket sales, revenue flows and much more. Zoom Events helps organisations understand the granular details of how an event has performed, which can then be used to improve future conferences. 

Beyond supplementing strong events on an organisational and administrative level, the platform allows businesses to create engaging virtual experiences for attendees, providing the opportunity to network effectively and develop meaningful connections. All of these features come together to replicate the in-person conference experience online.  

Events continue to take place virtually and in-person, which means users require a holistic, flexible solution. We are committed to innovating further and have recently acquired certain assets from Liminal in order to do so. Liminal is a startup company that offers event production solutions built largely on Zoom’s software development kit. It will help bridge Zoom with traditional and emerging event control applications and hardware to help theatres, broadcast studios, and other creative organisations address complex technical production needs and collaborate online effectively. 

How does Zoom hope to further boost the opportunity for connection and collaboration between work teams in the future?

When thinking about improving connection and collaboration within professional environments, Flexibility is one of our guiding principles. Our own internal poll found that only 1% of our staff want to return to the office full time, whilst over half would prefer a hybrid approach, and a quarter would like to work from home permanently. We understand that diversity in expectation requires a range of solutions. To empower workforces and expand meaningful collaborative experiences, we will continue to develop and enhance products such as Zoom Phone, Zoom Apps, and Zoom Rooms, and features like Smart Gallery. We’re also developing our range of AI tools and solutions such as our real-time machine translation capabilities, which can help bridge language barriers and create an immersive and collaborative experience.

Longer-term, we fully expect to see a continuation and expansion of the hybrid approach, which many organisations have experienced over the course of the past two years. As we deepen our hybrid connections and build upon emerging technologies, we will see an increased inter-functionality between in-person and virtual participants, where those joining a meeting virtually will be able to see and experience the meeting as if they were in the room.

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