The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the most drastic work shift in contemporary human history. At the outset of the pandemic, the option to work from home meant some industries could continue to stay afloat while other sectors hit a steep decline.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, the video-conference software company Zoom was relatively unknown. More than a year into the pandemic, it has become a household platform for virtual family gatherings, friends parties, and staff meetings.
Zoom was founded in 2011 and launched in 2013 by former Cisco engineer Eric Yuan. The company experiences exponential growth early in 2020 when Zoom became the go-to virtual spot for North Americans. In 2020, the company estimated increased revenues of $633 million, a whopping 355% increase from the year before. After announcing its earnings in 2020, Zoom’s stock soared by 23% and topped $550USD per share for a short time.
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By October 2020, the video conferencing platform had 300 million users who were signing on to use its services, up from 10 million the December before.
Economists from the International Labour Organization estimated that 557 million employees worked from home in the second quarter of 2020 which equates to 17.4% of the total global labour force of 3 billion, according to the ILO.
Obviously, that’s not to say that all 557 million remote workers went exclusively to Zoom but think about that potential.
As the chaotic coronavirus pandemic started to trickle through every sector of the Western world, Zoom offered a safe and distanced option for workers, teachers, and students, to name a few. Zoom offered a free membership along with 40 minutes of free video conferencing. From an educational standpoint, it was everything that a teacher needed to get the job done and what students needed to comply with the widespread stay-at-home orders.
Zoom’s strategy worked well for the software company. By the end of September 2020, the company said over 100,000 schools in 25 countries had switched to Zoom for academic purposes.
What does the future of Zoom look like?
While the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and its quick rollout at a global scale is encouraging for the world to start looking normal again, the work-life balance has changed for the long term. When the dust settles after the pandemic, businesses and schools will favour cost-effective hybrid models. Virtual workspaces and classrooms will overcome traditional physical interactions.
Zoom has used its vantage point to acquire the necessary assets to remain the king in the virtual world.
Essentially, time and physical spaces are less important than they used to be. Specifically, with younger generations, the realization that school and work can be done effectively from the comfort of your own home is not as farfetched as it used to be. On the contrary, it’s been proven over the past 14 months that it can be productively and consistently.
Zoom understood its potential and position and foresaw growth and ways to remain relevant in the post-COVID-19 world. The software company has announced plans to introduce new features, including virtual receptionists and the integration of voice assistants on Zoom platforms, like Siri or Alexa. Users will be able to join Zoom meetings with only a voice command, instead of needing to touch tablet, computer, or mobile phone screens.
Figure a virtual receptionist can use Zoom to let a visitor into an office building by unlocking doors virtually. In the office industry as an example, forget hiring receptionists from geographically convenient locations — businesses can hire workers from all over the world. That alone carries a variety of factors to outsource jobs for companies. A business can find a more cost-effective option to hire a virtual receptionist overseas instead of hiring someone locally.
Zoom understands the ramifications of the oft-referenced “new normal” and is opting to remain relevant by staying more user-friendly in a post-COVID-19 world. The hybrid working model, consisting of a split workweek between in-person and virtual workdays will become just as widespread and accepted as video meetings first were at the outset of the pandemic.
In advanced economies, it is estimated that 40% of workers can effectively work from home on a full-time basis — and guess where they’ll go for virtual interactions?
The Zoom boom took off when the world got flipped upside down and it’s here to stay.