Almost two months after Zoom controversially declared it would be requiring some of its employees to start being physically present in the office again, the videoconferencing company announced at its annual Zoomtopia event today a host of platform updates to enhance the hybrid work experience.
“Returning to the office after working remotely can be challenging,” said Theresa Larkin, global lead for UCaaS Product Marketing at Zoom. “We all need flexible workspaces that encourage new ways to engage with virtual and in-person teams, and provide equal opportunity to have individual voices be heard, no matter where they're located.”
Earlier this year, Zoom acquired employee engagement and communications application Workvivo. The software provides remote and hybrid workers with different ways to stay informed and connected to wider company goings-on and will soon offer an integration with Zoom that will allow employees to engage with colleagues directly from Zoom, wherever they may be. Users will also be able to launch meetings or start a Team Chat with a colleague directly from Workvivo.
Workvivo customers will also have access to Employee Insights, a new employee listening and survey suite within the Workvivo platform, where administrators can get regular, detailed feedback and act all in one place.
Employee Insights brings together data and survey feedback and includes modular surveys to closely track employee engagement drivers, allowing organisations to get real-time and long-term feedback, and is expected to be available in November.
Zoom seeks to improve the return to office experience
For employees that are coming back to the office, the platform's new Visitor Management tool gives organisations the ability to check in and manage visitors at their facility locations. Admins can set the guidelines for inviting visitors, including which questionnaires to fill out and photos to upload, designate who can invite visitors, and view reporting.
Visitor Management will soon be available in private beta and is expected to be generally available in December.
To help with space-planning and hybrid schedules, Zoom is also introducing Workspace Dashboard, which provides the ability to view a snapshot of future office capacity and details of future reservations.
Meanwhile, an update to Zoom’s Workspace Reservation tool will allow users to find their own reserved desk via the Zoom mobile app, better locate colleagues, and offer new presence options so employees can find where coworkers are in the office and join them for in-person collaboration. Workspace Dashboard and the updates to Zoom Workspace Reservation are expected to be generally available in 2024.
Finally, Zoom is introducing presence indicators and seating information to a new tool in Huddles dubbed My Office View, allowing employees to know when the colleagues they collaborate closely with are in a Huddle or in the office. Available from 2024, the update will also allow teammates in a chat channel to move their Team Chat conversation to a live huddle.
Improving communication across Zoom’s platform
Alongside the platform updates that assist employees when they are present in the office, Zoom is also rolling out a number of updates to the collaboration tools offered by the platform.
Users will soon be able to incorporate single-use booking links into Zoom’s new Scheduler tool, allowing them to maintain control of their calendar and check availability across multiple accounts. In the future, users will be able to incorporate hosts’ unique availabilities to eliminate the need for specific calendars for different teams or regions, or delegate to executive assistants or other support members who can schedule meetings on behalf of others. Salesforce integrates directly into Scheduler so that meeting records from Zoom Scheduler automatically sync with Salesforce.
An asynchronous video tool called Zoom Clips will be generally available to users by the end of 2023. Zoom Clips will allow users to record, edit, and share short-form video messages, both internally and externally, cutting down on the number of meetings, and reduce lost time on unnecessary calls.
Additionally, from 2024, Team Chat users will see the introduction of channels, allowing channel members to access and collaborate on apps, whiteboards, notes, and other resources easily in one place. Users will have dedicated chat spaces and shared workspaces to collaborate across organisations, communities, and projects.
Finally, an enhanced Meetings tab will act as a central hub before, during, and after meetings, integrating Calendar, Scheduler, and Notes to help users find a time for a call, prepare agendas, and link to content for review before the meeting. From the new Meetings tab, users will be able to search for assets and review action items by including meeting summaries, next steps, recordings, chats, and whiteboards on the Meeting detail page.
Other platform updates announced by Zoom at Zoomtopia include:
- Name tags for Zoom Room users
- New Dynamic Layouts for Zoom Rooms that will allow viewers will see video frames shift in real time
- Zoom Mesh for Meetings will help organizations reduce bandwidth usage by 20% or more during meetings when many participants are predominantly concentrated in a few office locations
- Global search is a new global search functionality that surfaces documents and chats across Zoom products such as Team Chat and Whiteboard
- Users in Zoom Rooms will have the ability to contact IT via a new Zoom Rooms Help Button
- Audio/Visual (AV) teams will soon be able to easily manage multiple physical and virtual audio and video streams with Pro AV for Zoom Rooms
- Intelligent Director is a new feature that optimises the conference room experience for hybrid work, using multiple cameras to give every participant their own frame and best visual angle
All these additional updates will start rolling out to users from today and into 2024.