Zoom Rooms tweaks aim to bolster a safe re-opening of offices

Zoom this week unveiled updates to its Zoom Rooms suite designed to support businesses that continue to give employees the option to work remotely once offices fully reopen.

The question of what the workplace will look like post-pandemic has been a major uncertainty since widespread lockdown orders were put in place last year as COVID-19 spread; the general consensus is that most companies will adopt a hybrid model, with some employees at home, others in the office. While that option is overwhelmingly favored by workers, it presents challenges for organizations looking to ensure a seamless collaboration between remote and office-based workers.

That hybrid workforce remains a semi-distant prospect, however with conversations currently focused on how to safely reopen offices. As a result, Zoom said its new Rooms innovations will allow organizations to put “employee health and safety at the center” of their strategy.

“Clearly, the office workspace continues to change. In fact, more than 80% of employees working remote say they’d like to continue to work remotely … once they do return to the office,” said Craig Durr, senior analyst with Wainhouse Research. “But to accomplish this, employees have to have a healthy, safe and secure conference room experience that meets the needs of today’s emerging hybrid workforce. Zoom is well positioned to provide this.”

Zoom Rooms offers a suite of tablets, monitors and webcams that companies can use throughout the office to schedule, conduct and remotely connect to meetings. In a blog post announcing the updates, Cynthia Lee, Zoom’s senior product manager, wrote that Zoom Rooms, Zoom Rooms Appliances and Zoom for Home are “jam-packed with features designed to support hybrid workforces and help businesses re-enter the office safely.”

These include a virtual receptionist that provides a contactless entry experience for employees and building guests. It uses Zoom’s “Kiosk Mode” and a touchscreen device that in-office workers and visitors can operate under the guidance of a remote receptionist.

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