October 2, 2023
Zoom, renowned for enabling WFH (work from home) during the pandemic, has surprised many by instructing its staff to work on-site. The move comes as the company aims to adopt a structured hybrid approach and leverage its own technologies. This article explores Zoom’s decision, the UK’s work-from-home laws, and the future of remote work.

Zoom’s Pandemic Boom

Zoom, the video conferencing giant, experienced unprecedented growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. As companies worldwide transitioned to remote work, Zoom became synonymous with virtual meetings. Zoom’s stock market value skyrocketed, peaking at over $140 billion, making it the most visible winner in the tech sector during the Covid-19 crisis. The company’s easy-to-use video meetings became the go-to solution for organisations.

Moreover, as the pandemic-driven remote work trend took hold, Zoom’s user base expanded exponentially. Companies relied on Zoom’s services to replace face-to-face interactions and it safeguarded business continuity and productivity during uncertain times. The platform’s accessibility made it a preferred choice for both tech-savvy professionals and those new to remote work. Zoom’s growth was remarkable, with its shares leaping 15-fold from its initial public offering.

In addition, Zoom’s success story was not limited to its user base and stock market performance. First, the company swiftly adapted to the increased demand. Moreover, it continuously enhanced its platform, introducing new features to meet the evolving needs of remote work. From virtual backgrounds to breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards and live transcription. Zoom aimed to provide a comprehensive and immersive virtual collaboration experience.

Economic Recovery and Zoom’s WFH Policies

Zoom now faces a challenge as corporations begin to recalibrate their work arrangements and as companies are reevaluating the long-term feasibility of remote work. Some businesses are opting for a hybrid model, blending remote and in-person work. This is well-adapted as it strikes a balance between flexibility and the benefits of face-to-face collaboration (work-life balance). Zoom’s decision to require employees to work on-site reflects this shift in the work landscape.

In response to the evolving economic landscape and the recovery of global economies, Zoom is compelled to make strategic decisions regarding its work arrangements. The adjustment to require employees to work on-site is driven by a combination of factors influenced by the broader economic situation.

Moreover, the economic concept of resilience is a driving force behind Zoom’s decision-making. By adopting a structured hybrid approach, Zoom aims to strike a balance between flexibility and the benefits of face-to-face collaboration. This flexibility allows the company to adapt to changing economic conditions, such as shifting customer demands or emerging market opportunities, ensuring its continued success in an evolving business environment.


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UK Employment Laws

The United Kingdom Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 20 July 2023. It increases the number of flexible working requests employees can make. After it took effect, employers must now consult with employees before rejecting a request. However, the Act doesn’t grant the right to make a request from the first day of employment. These changes have practical implications for employers.

Currently, UK employees with 26 weeks of continuous service can request changes to enable flexible working. Requests involve adjustments to working hours or the place of work. Employees must submit written, statutory requests, specifying the desired change, implementation date, and impact on the employer. They are limited to one request per year.

Employers aren’t obligated to accept all requests but must handle them reasonably and respond within three months. Refusals should be based on statutory grounds, like additional costs or organisational limitations. Failure to comply may lead to compensation claims and discrimination allegations if requests are treated unfairly.

Is Work From Home Still The Norm?

Despite Zoom WFH’s decision to bring its employees back to the office, the question remains: Is remote work still the future trend? The pandemic accelerated remote work adoption, showcasing its benefits and challenges. Remote work offers flexibility, eliminates commuting time, and enhances work-life balance, but it can also lead to feelings of isolation and hinder collaboration and innovation.

This shift to remote work has prompted companies to rethink their long-term strategies and reimagine the future of work. While some organisations are eager to return to the office for face-to-face interactions, others recognise the advantages of remote work and are embracing hybrid models. These models aim to combine the best aspects of remote and in-person work, allowing employees to work remotely part of the time while engaging in in-person collaboration when necessary.

” Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, firmly believes that hybrid work is here to stay and presents new business opportunities for the company. The trend of allowing employees to work from anywhere has gained popularity, making it challenging to enforce a complete return to the office. The future of work is likely to involve a balanced approach, tailored to each company’s specific needs and objectives. This approach acknowledges the diverse preferences and circumstances of employees while leveraging the benefits of both remote and in-person collaboration.”

The flexibility of remote work has transformed the traditional work paradigm and opened up possibilities for a more inclusive and global workforce. It has allowed companies to tap into talent pools beyond geographical boundaries, fostering diversity and innovation. However, the importance of in-person interactions for fostering creativity, building relationships, and driving collaboration cannot be overlooked.

Commercial Awareness Topics

  • Adaptation to Virtual Courtrooms: Remote work has led to the emergence of virtual courtrooms and online legal proceedings. Lawyers need to be adept at using digital platforms and technology to effectively represent clients and argue cases in this new environment.
  • Opportunity for Virtual Work ExperienceTraditionally, work experience for law students has taken place within an actual law firm or barristers chambers. However, some law firms have paved the way for a new kind of virtual work experience for law students to allow them to see what life at a law firm might be like from the comfort of their own homes.
  • Collaboration and Client Communication: Remote work has underscored the importance of effective collaboration and communication with clients. Lawyers must utilise virtual tools to maintain strong client relationships, provide timely updates, and collaborate seamlessly with colleagues.
  • Technological Competence: As remote work heavily relies on digital tools and platforms, aspiring lawyers should develop strong technological competence. Familiarity with legal software, document management systems, and video conferencing tools is essential.
  • Work-Life Balance and Flexibility: Remote work offers the potential for improved work-life balance and greater flexibility. Lawyers should consider how remote work arrangements can enhance their well-being and enable a more sustainable legal career.

Commercial Awareness Questions

Here’s our round-up of questions to challenge you to look more deeply into this topic and help you prepare for any upcoming interviews:

  • What are the economic reasons behind Zoom’s decision to require employees to work on-site, and how does it relate to the broader shift in work arrangements?
  • In what ways has the legal industry adapted to remote work, and what skills are becoming increasingly important for aspiring lawyers in a digital work environment?
  • What factors contributed to Zoom’s unprecedented growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why did it become a symbol of remote work?


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