back to article Zoom's new London hub – where 'remote work' meets 'we need you back in the office'

Zoom is underscoring its mandated return to the physical workplace by opening a London "engagement hub" that it reckons will cater for the needs of hybrid, office and remote workers. The poster child for the work-from-home revolution that sprang up during the pandemic surprised onlookers recently by confirming it'll require …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I don't usually feel sorry for salesmen but you have to have a little sympathy for Zoom's. If a company bad-mouth's its own product it must be tough hearing all your prospects point that out ot you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not as bad as outwardly austere salesdroids having to deal with field engineers turning up for onsite support in Porsches. "Tell me again why your prices are so high ...?"

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        A college I worked in once in the UK many decades ago that had a bit of a bad patch(*).

        The interim 'turnaround' Principal drove a beat up Ford estate of some vintage. As I happened to know that he lived in a very nice part of the city and that his wife drove a fancy Chelsea Tractor he did confide that his choice of vehicle was 'perception management'.

        Fun times (we got through it). This guy's first move was to mount an aggressive advertising/marketing push and send us into local schools to talk to year 10 and 11s. Net result: 20% more students the next year.

        Back on topic: Zoom allowed us to move to online teaching and tutorials very quickly at no cost when MS Teams was unusable. When something approaching normality returned, and when Zoom (quite reasonably in my opinion) started to limit the free option, we had to move to MS Teams as it was already paid for as part of the MS 365 package. There was no way we could pay Zoom for something we already had even if it was crap.

        (*)OFSTED unsatisfactory, departure of most of the senior post holders, resignation of the governors, eventually forced merger with another larger college locally. I'm a Brit so I do understatement. This was basically Ground Zero in institutional terms.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        An outwardly austere salesdroid? Never seen one.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          They park their company car (back in the day) offsite and got exactly the same colour/model (but not spec) of BMW/Audi to camouflage the new motor. They did exist.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Parked?

            It amused me how many didn’t let their wife drive the unused company car.

            For many years it made economic sense for me to use my partners car for the daily station or weekly airport trip and for her to use the fully expensed (fuel card and valeting included) company car.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Economic sense? Men with cars?! Are you sure that's just not being hen pecked?

              I knew field staff (not sales) who did that. To placate their better halves with a car. To make up for all those nights away on support trips and field conferences.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Hen pecked? Probably not in the way you envision…

                The problem with being the sole driver of “the company car” is that you are the driver regardless, so:

                1. going out with friends for a meal and drink? You are the driver, so no wine etc. for you, but your other half (and her friend) will make up for it…

                2. Going on holiday that requires more than a few hours driving? You are the driver, no swapping of drivers in a lay-by etc.

                Having established the above, it is helpful (to your peace of mind) if your other half is confident in driving the car - think difference between ford fiesta and Audi Quattro/Subaru Impreza WRX. (Aside when the time came for children, my choice of cars became more restrained and budget friendly…)

                As for hen pecked, my wife’s best friend (a blond) was a petrolhead and due to her parents work (motor sports) was a “reasonable” driver ie. Guys who took her to be a “blond” always lost and I knew better than to even try to compete on Silverstone track days… She thus mentored my wife to become a better driver…

    2. jmch Silver badge

      It must be a difficult sell to push teleworking to customers when your own company is mandating physical presence!!!

      Also - frictionless??

      "apparently makes meetings frictionless, and who doesn't want less friction in their lives?"

      ...travelling up to 50 miles to be able to take part in a 'frictionless' meeting???? If it's so frictionless just do it from home!!!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

    Gloom will be all about meeting and conference rooms. Not virtual, real.

    Perfectly equipped, comfortable chairs, companies will be able to book rooms for 2 to 200 people, who will present themselves at reception with the online voucher. Once authenticated in person, they will be led to the reserved room and will be able to have their meeting/conference during the allotted time.

    Meetings that drag on beyond allotted time will be subject to a penalty every 15 minutes after end of allotted time. The amount will depend on the room size and number of occupants.

    Gloom is necessary to offset the fatigue that comes with online meetings. Your employees will be more alert, more involved, and get more work done.

    1. Blue Pumpkin

      Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

      Tastefully decked out with demotivational posters from despair.com …..

      1. t245t Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Tastefully decked out with demotivational posters from despair.com …..

        @Blue Pumpkin: “Tastefully decked out with demotivational posters from despair.com …..

        Build Your Own 2023 Calendar

        I once worked in a place festooned with such demotivational posters and attended compulsory meeting where ones input was not required.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Tastefully decked out with demotivational posters from despair.com …..

          I eventually found one such meeting very motivational. It motivated me right out of the last job I had before going freelance.

      2. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Despair.com

        That's simply fantastic, thanks! I just had to share that site with friends!

      3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Demotivational Poster

        There's a Dilbert where Dogbert is talking to Dilbert in the morning before he heads out to work. Dogbert says,

        Frame 1 "Today you will wear clothes you don't want to wear."

        2 "You'll drive somewhere you don't want to be, and do things you don't want to do."

        3 "Have a nice day."

        I printed it A3 and put it in a frame on my office wall. My boss was pretty pissed off with it and told me to take it down. I told him I'd take it down when it wasn't true.

        (Sorry for no link, but Dilbert's behind a paywall now.)

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

      Wasn’t there an outfit in the US that was doubt exactly this up to about a year ago but threw in the towel because nobody was interested?

      Am i making that up? Think it was something like this

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

        WeWork? That nearly floated for $47B in 2019, and is currently circling the drain with a valuation of <$400M. El Reg ran some articles about them, such as:

        https://www.theregister.com/2019/08/14/wework_ipo_small_print/

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: WeWork

          I know, what could possibly go wrong with leasing expensive, prime real estate from greedy urban commercial landlords and reselling it at a high profit, but only on a short-term hourly basis??

          After all, it works so well for Afternoon Delights grumble hotels, right? Err...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: WeWork

            Don't forget, the CEO of WeWork was also one of the commercial landlords they rented from. He walked away with billions.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

        There are several. The problem is they're likely to be in the wrong places. I think there would be good reason to set them up where people live so that those whose circumstances aren't reasonable for working from home - or who just don't like working in isolation - could rent a desk to work from without having to commute. We should stop seeing long commutes as no longer sustainable.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

          I'm less convinced about the idea. At least if the business does short-term office leases to a particular client, that client can use the office for some purpose that someone benefits from, like having a bunch of people work on the same thing in person temporarily before going back to remote working or having a public place where others can be directed. While there certainly are people who would rather not work from home, not all of them really value a rented hot desk much, since it won't provide them much that they couldn't have had at home, and if they're paying for it out of their own pocket, they could probably buy the things they're using with a few months worth of rent payments. Some people will really like the experience and become customers and I could see a lot of people finding that there is an occasional day when it's convenient, but in order to accommodate that latter group, the office would have to have a lot of vacancies which is not very profitable.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

        In the UK. Grot. Founded by Reginald Perrin :-)

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          Go

          Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

          Grot.com says it is a personal email domain and to go away.

          Grot.co.uk did not exist when I looked. I will look in an hour and see if it does by then.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

            I get a GoDaddy holding page on Sunday 13/8/23 stating "grot.co.uk is already sold"

            Was it you? If not, I'm betting it was someone reading here :-)

            1. gv

              Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

              "I didn't get where I am today without registering the appropriate domain names, Reggie."

              1. cheb

                Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

                Great!

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

                  Super!

                  1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: I think it is the perfect time to start a new company : Gloom

                    I think it goes without saying that there will be a bit of a cock-up on the catering front.

  3. thondwe

    Hybrid is a PITA - you turn up for a meeting which invariable involves someone who needs to Zoom in, or you try and find a desk and stick on headphones to get some peace and quiet, having paid over the odds for transport/parking as the "deals" are for full time commuters...

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      I'm a hybrid worker and I was in the office yesterday for one of my regular in-office days. The experience was the same as every other in-office day...constant intrusive background noise from 8.30 to 5 caused by colleagues all around conducting GMeet calls with customers and colleagues who are having a working-from-home day.

      Today I'm working at home in peace and quiet with better productivity, and the bonus of better coffee and no time lost to commuting.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        You *know* it's all about retaining their 'investment' in their commercial real estate, because multi-millionaire commercial property owners are suffering when they have to reduce their yacht vacations to only 4 cans of caviar per day!

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          The reality is that the owners are the thousands millions of small investors who have this included in pension plans, etc. I include myself in that - should have seen the obvious a couple of years ago and switched out. But if you have any sort of pension, personal or company, look carefully and you might have to include yourself in that category.

          We really need the education system to reach people about the financial facts of life as well as the biological.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really prefer to work from the office, and talk to people directly. I was really glad before the pandemic that my company did not allow working from home. Now that work from home is tolerated, I have lost the ability to walk to people's desk and I find it quite annoying. Things that could have been resolved in minutes take hours.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One of my major bugbears on Teams is when someone just messages you with "Hey" or "Hi". Sometimes they might include your name. So I respond in kind and it's the Spongebob meme ("many many hours later" etc.) waiting for the next instalment from their side.

      Please just say something like "Hi $MyName - can you send me a copy of that report pls" or "Hi MyName, got a few minutes for a chat?" It means we can sort things immediately rather than leaving us both hanging, or whatever needs done being blocked for however long.

      But my personal favourite was at a previous job where one particular person would walk up to my desk, they could see Skype for Business (as it was back then) open on my screen and I was talking into my headset. "are you on a call" they would ask.

      1. tfewster
        Thumb Up

        https://www.nohello.com/

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Cute. And yes I agree.

          But just for contrast, I have a friend who does this on phone calls - launching straight into whatever she wants to talk about without any formalities, like they do in the movies. Frankly it's quite disconcerting - normally my response is "wait, what?" as I'm still context switching. So no hello on chat, yes hello on voice please.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            That's rather like BT's idea of delivering text messages over landlines. Straight into reciting the number it came form and than gabbles the message. No idea who it was from, minimal comprehension of the message.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              The alternative isn't better. I'm thinking of the last phone I had without downloaded voice messages, where retrieving them required using the voicemail IVR system. The one I had would read phone numbers before every message and very slowly. On the positive side, it would be very easy to write them down. On the negative side, after listening to a phone number for twenty seconds, I was quite irritated and was no longer paying attention because I wanted the system to shut up. I tried to turn off that feature, but in that case, finding out the number for someone who didn't say it in their message would take about twelve button presses to turn it back on and then off because it was only available as a global option.

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            So no hello on chat

            I requre an EHLO before getting to the DATA part..

            (Although my wife is prone to suddenly restarting a conversation we had 2-3 days ago and then wondering why I can't automatically context-switch[1].. Dunno whether that's just a 'her' thing but she's done it all of our 34-year marriage..)

            [1] Yes. Humans can't multi-task [2]. But we can context-switch fairly rapidly [3] when required. And no - there's no inherent gender bias as to which one is better - it depends on childhood training and raw intelligence fo rthe most part.

            [2] Unless you count of the background of the autonomous nervous system and stuff like breathing.

            [3] Getting less good as I get older. Less braincells than I used to have! Still the whisky is nice :-)

            1. Simon 49

              No that's a wife thing. Mine her a memory that works differently than mine, and will do the same launch into a continuation of a past conversation and not understand why I can't just pick it up without context.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Mine too. Worse, sometimes she starts a conversation with "me" in her head and "continues" it with me out loud part way through! That can be disconcerting :-)

                1. that one in the corner Silver badge

                  How very true.

                  Or she has been reminded of one thing (e.g. saw blades) whilst you are talking about something sort of related (rust spots on a pocket knife blade), switches context - and you are lost because some words make sense (sharpener) but others (cut down that tree) are, well, ambitious?

      2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        I will quite often 'Ping!' my technical cow-orkers to see if they are responsive, and what their latency is.

        Once a Ping is ACKed then other communication modes are normally initiated!

        1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

          I don't know 'why' the thumbs down.

          I literally mean that I 'Ping!' someone as a Teams Chat message. Meaning 'Are you available?'

          And the 'ACK' that comes back is the 'Yes, I'm available!'

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            I thought "one ping only" meant you wanted to defect ?

            1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
              Pint

              You, shir, win internet for today.

              Enjoy a cold one on your way to Montana - No papers!

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            I wasn't the thumbs down guy, but I don't like this. I'm on the nohello side. If you have one question, put that in the message and I can start responding to it immediately. If it looks like a long question, I'll send an in progress message to let you know I've started. If you have a lot of questions, then either send the first one or send a message asking for a talk, ideally with some context about why.

            The reason for this is that I have to quickly decide when a message comes in whether I should switch to that one or continue doing what I'm already doing. If I don't make that decision quickly, I become distracted. Switching to the chat software to acknowledge your greeting and ask what you want, then wait for you to type what you want will be that distraction. This means I'll either run the risk of being distracted when I shouldn't be or I'll ignore something from you because I don't have information which, if I did have it, would have gotten me to switch more quickly.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              If you are busy, set your status as appropriate, eg busy or do not disturb, whichever level suits. We also have team chats open so anyone with a question can check if a specific person is available or at least willing to be disturbed or ask in the general team chat. It took a little while, but the habit soon becomes automatic to set status as appropriate. Initial problems were people using too high a level of unavailable and not changing it when appropriate, eg Do Not Disturb to the extent that no one in team was ever available even when sitting twiddling their thumbs waiting for something such that people would ignore the busy status, whatever the level, As I say, it took time and co-operation, but eventually we reached a balanced consensus. No "Do Not Disturb" really means that. Busy means I may get back to you soon, but probably not immediately and available means yeah, I'm looking for an excuse to stop what I'm doing, someone save me from this grindstone. The team chat is less used now, but it's still common, for those "hey, anyone know how to..." and similar questions where it doesn't matter which of us respond.

              Likewise, audio or video calls. In-office etiquette is to not have headphones on unless you are actually using them so that people who are actually using them in a meeting are not disturbed, ie there should be a real assumption that headphones on means "in a meeting", not just "please don't talk to me"

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Still not the downvote guy. I don't bother with this much either because it's not as much about what I'm doing right now than what you need. If I'm available right now, I will go read your message. If I'm really busy right now, I will ignore your message (there are ways to get my attention if it's that urgent, which it probably isn't). If I'm only slightly busy, then I can quickly determine what is going on and whether I think you can wait, so that's what I'm going to do. Rather than having you make the judgement, I prefer that you send me your question. For one thing, if you ask a question and I'm too busy to answer it, then when I come back to it a few minutes later, I can give you the answer even if you're not there.

                1. Richard 12 Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Indeed

                  There's also the fact that if you provide the question up-front, then I can answer it while waiting for something I'm actually working on to complete.

                  If you don't, then you've already consumed my available idle time with the ACK.

                  There's a reason why most modern protocols do the zero-round-trip resume.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              There's this thing called email. It's asynchronous. If you're zoned in on something else you don't even context switch to check email until you're finished.

              Enquirers don't get instant responses? Well. why do they think their demand for an instant answer outweighs your concentration on your job?

              1. Spanners Silver badge
                Meh

                RE: asynchronous

                I have noticed that most people around me use Teams asynchronously. That is, you note where/who it is from and reply when it is convenient.

                I know that this is not what Manglement or M$ want you to do. It is just the result of having work to do - and a life!

              2. hoola Silver badge

                This is the crux of all this Teams and other messaging stuff.

                You cannot search for anything and get a meaningful result.

                Instant messaging is to replace those conversations that take place that are informal.

                Email is when you need a though out question/answer response.

                It really pisses me off when you get questions via Teams that have no right to be in Teams. Use a bloody email, it takes the same amount of time and FFS write in English.

                The last one really winds me up, I am not a street-savvy Social Media, Chat, WhatsApp user. I expect to be able to understand what I am reading without going to a translator. Not everyone understands all the ridiculous shorthand collections of letters.

          3. Mike007 Bronze badge

            One of my colleagues used to say "ping me if you need me". He stopped doing that when one day he got back from lunch and I copy/pasted from the terminal in to the chat and asked why he didn't respond...

        2. Spanners Silver badge
          Go

          "cow-orkers"

          I thought it was cow irkers?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @a/c

        Of course they would ask if you are on a call. Because everyone knows that people will pretend to be taking a call as they are hungover? Or are just lazy twats? Or maybe just pretending to being doing actual work? You know, anything rather than doing what they are getting paid to do...

        And why should anyone use your name/handle when you post anonymously?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > And why should anyone use your name/handle when you post anonymously?

          'Cos I'm the only AC in the village!

    2. abend0c4 Silver badge

      I have lost the ability to walk to people's desk and I find it quite annoying

      It would be interesting to canvas the opinion of your co-workers on that subject.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      I have lost the ability to walk to people's desk and I find it quite annoying annoy them.

      FTFY

      "Things that could have been resolved in minutes take hours." And possibly the opposite for your colleagues. If interaction has to be scheduled it means that work also gets its time on the schedule.

    4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Things that could have been resolved in minutes take hours.

      Only if you want them to take hours as some kind of protest against remote working.

      I've done full office, hybrid, and fully remote over the past 30 years, asking someone about something doesn't seem to take any longer for any of them. Mainly it's about mutual respect and not taking the piss.

      If you're the kind of person who goes to find people and expects an immediate response regardless of what they're doing, it's a lot easier for remote colleagues to ignore you. Likewise if you're always badgering them about mundane trivial things that you could discover in 5 seconds of internet searching.

      On the other hand, if you're requesting help but only when someone becomes available, instead of demanding it instantly, or if it's for genuinely difficult problems, I've found people respond in about the same time frame.

      1. Lurko

        Re: Things that could have been resolved in minutes take hours.

        I find that when things take hours (or days, even months) then it's almost entirely irrespective of remote/hybrid/full time office working patters. Rather, it's always the same people. Late with your response to business planning? Failing to reply to an urgent request in respect of a head honcho panic? Ignoring a polite request to do something as a decent human being? Failing to resolve a simple technical request that you know only they have the answer for? Producing verbose, complex outputs to show off how clever they are, so that they don't in fact give any useful answer? Replying to emails titled "Matter Blahblah: Action required by 16 July...." with denials of having seen said email, missing said email because they were away on that date (!), or even requests to remind them what the deadline is.

        Always, always the same people. Likewise, the helpful, insightful people are always the same people. Before I start any exercise at work, I could write a "naughty list" of who will not be co-operative, will need to be repeatedly chased, reminded, exhorted, and ultimately where the matter often needs escalation to their boss (or their boss).

        And I'd like to note that how I really feel about this issue and the guilty parties involves a lot of motor-industry grade expletives.

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      I suppose you now leave a note:

      “Sorry you were out when I visited. I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon. With every good wish, Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg MP.”

      Suggest you learn to use chat or email…

      Back in the 90s working out of a hotel room somewhere in the world, such tools were helpful in identifying who was awake and working (somewhere else in the world) and hence could be engaged in a real-time work related phone call. Fortunately, as many of the calls were roaming-to-roaming, calls were expensed…

    6. MJI Silver badge

      And to a lot of us the ability to not be disturbed by annoying coworkers is great.

      I have already said I will retire rather than go back full time.

    7. localzuk Silver badge

      So, you like interrupting the workflow of everyone around you because you think what you need to discuss is more important than whatever they are working on at that moment? Seems like a bit of a selfish way to work.

      1. RyokuMas
        Facepalm

        No less selfish than isolating yourself away from the rest of your department and not being available/willing to assist more junior members who may need the help of someone with specific domain knowledge that cannot be looked up on the web...

        I have lost track of how many hours I've seen lost because of people either not replying to requests for help on instant messaging or due to misunderstandings because the person being called cannot see exactly what is happening on the caller's machine... and onboarding new starters takes days rather than hours.

        But hey! who cares about the rest of the team these days, right? In fact, how about we all go back to waterfall and working all the hours under the sun to meet ridiculous deadlines just because our equipment is always immediately to hand?!?

    8. jmch Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "I have lost the ability to walk to people's desk and I find it quite annoying."

      Have you ever considered that whoever's desk you were walking to are extremely happy they can work from home because nobody is annoying them by walking to their desk and interrupting their work???

  5. K

    Writings on the wall for these companies

    I keep my finger on the pulse of this.

    Last year there were quite a few dodgy articles, insinuating everybody had already gone back.. and whilst I don't normally wear a tin foil hat, these articles, are blatant attempts by geriatric politicians and business groups to manipulate both employees, and employers...

    You just need to look at Bloomberg's speech a couple of weeks ago, im paraphrasing but 'NYC spending billions on unused offfices" - here is a thought, get rid of those premises, and save the tax-payer.

    On the flip-side, in past couple of weeks, there has been a flurry of research released on this have been several very interesting studies released on. The summary is:

    Whilst the CxO keep pushing for return to office. The most senior and experienced staff are not adhering, and the majority of these (70%) would walk away if they were forced.

    Another paper showed that companies that allow staff to choose, have over twice as much success with recruitment and retention. In addition to be more profitable..

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Writings on the wall for these companies

      insinuating everybody had already gone back..

      My place (and where my wife orks) have sold off chunks of the building [1] so it wouldn't be possible for us all to be in the office. And both remain fully committed [2] to maintaining the hybrid working. Some times (like last week) I go into the office several days a week (or all week) but it's increasingly rare. Normally, it's just one day a week where the whole team is in.

      [1] Or, in our case, sublet portions to other organisations.

      [2] And not in a losing-football-team-board-statement-about-the-manager way. Or a politician talking about a ministerial colleague.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Writings on the wall for these companies

      "Another paper showed that companies that allow staff to choose, have over twice as much success with recruitment and retention. In addition to be more profitable.."

      Yeah, a lot of our job vacancies are advertised as remote or hybrid possible. Depends on what the job actually is, of course :-)

      eg Sales and Marketing can all work remotely much of the time but also find in-person collaboration is good so most go into the office at least once per week, usually on a "team" day, ie not all of marketing on the same day, but all of a team. The warehouse and workshop staff tend to all go in everyday though :-)

      On the other hand, there's a client I visit regularly who has a beancounter with an intermittent hardware fault he seems quite happy to work around rather than turn up at the office and get a new laptop. I think the fault ticket has been open for nigh on 3 months now. He logged the ticket remotely and hasn't been seen since at least that long. His work is still getting done and he sends emails and joins meeting, but that could just be creative AI and video editing. Rolls of carpet and lime may or may not have been involved. Probably not. But he is a beancounter :-)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Writings on the wall for these companies

        "that could just be creative AI and video editing."

        OTOH he's a beancounter.

  6. Roger Kynaston

    commercial landlords

    I think the above are shitting bricks about all the squilliions they borrowed and may now stand to lose if companies shrink their office size.

    My non scientific view is that home/hybrid work with a choice of mix/mode is the best way to manage R&R these days. After all if Elmo is all in favour of everyone being in the orifice full time it must be a bad idea.

    Zoom really ought to think about what they are in business for.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: commercial landlords

      "Zoom really ought to think about what they are in business for."

      They probably can't renegotiate the lease.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: commercial landlords

        "They probably can't renegotiate the lease."

        To a normal, right-thinking person, that should have no bearing on WfH/Hybrid/full-time-office working. The cost to the company will be the same until the lease comes up for renewal no matter whether staff are all there or mainly WfH. It's just that psychological need for willy waving by CEOs that keep them in their large and prestigious office buildings. Just look at how many are in the highest rent areas when a mile down the road would be half the cost.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: commercial landlords

          In fact, if the place is empty, unfurnished and unheated/uncooled, it will cost far less.

          Just have someone pop by once a week to collect the post.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: commercial landlords

          >> To a normal, right-thinking person, that should have no bearing on WfH/Hybrid/full-time-office working. The cost to the company will be the same until the lease comes up for renewal no matter whether staff are all there or mainly WfH.

          Unfortunately that's not the case. In most tax jurisdictions, a business may need to show a certain utilization rate for buildings before they can get a tax write-off for the (often substantial) leasing costs of commercial real estate.

          Which is why the peons have to be back in the office.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: commercial landlords

            >” a business may need to show a certain utilization rate for buildings before they can get a tax write-off for the (often substantial) leasing costs of commercial real estate.”

            So it is beneficial for government to have lightly utilised offices - lower level of costs to offset… Yet for some reason governments also want people commuting…

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: commercial landlords

            "Unfortunately that's not the case. In most tax jurisdictions, a business may need to show a certain utilization rate for buildings before they can get a tax write-off for the (often substantial) leasing costs of commercial real estate."

            Really? Didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    billed as a "multi-use cohesive hub" designed to provide a "collaborative space"

    The marketing wankers just had to come up with a bullshit way of saying "an office" didn't they?

    The worse thing is, crap like this catches on, and before you know it, your word processor will be called Multi-Use Cohesive Hub 365.

  8. t245t Silver badge
    Joke

    Zoom video meetings ..

    Zoom brings together in-office and remote employees with the launch of Intelligent Director for Zoom Rooms

    I've never understood how anything got done before video meetings /s

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Zoom video meetings ..

      My works as a manager for a government.....

      At the start of Covid they were going to do a dept-wide zoom call where all the managers would explain how it was all going to work seamlessly for the Greater Good (tm)

      But so it looked "professional" they didn't want managers doing it from home on a laptop webcam, no they were all going to come into the office and use proper video conferencing facilities

      But because of Covid there was a limit of one person per meeting room

      So my wife had to drive to the only government office with a free meeting room, more than an hour away. It was the equivalent of a 'parks and rec' groundskeeper's closet - where she had to use their crappy wifi and her laptop, to look more "professional" than the awesome home office I had at home.

    2. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: Zoom video meetings ..

      I've never understood how anything got done before video meetings

      Beer was much cheaper in those days.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Zoom video meetings ..

        We had many productive meetings in various hostelries back in those days, much favoured by those thought better with a lit cigarette between their fingers. The only downside as a non-smoker was the suit cleaning bill…

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Zoom video meetings ..

          ...and the passive smoking lung damage.

    3. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Zoom video meetings ..

      How about not auto-updating the Zoom client when you open it to start a meeting but give the option to update at the end.

      More and more we are abandoning Zoom because of technical issues.

  9. tmTM

    15,000 sq ft central London site??

    Is this company run by complete morons?

    That's a large and very expensive office in central London, for a company that's business is remote working.

    Is so large and expensive, you're now forcing your employees to come and use it, after finding out that people actually don't really want to commute to central London for work.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

      Additionally, from the article this isn’t an office intended.for focus work, like you did in your (assigned sole occupancy) cubicle. This reads like an ideas space, where things get mocked up and explored by a group over possibly a couple of days, it’s not for months long projects to occupy.

      So it would seem the real nuts and bolts work will still be happening at home…

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

        Almost like Zoom can't be arsed, or doesn't know how, to build the collaboration tools to support those kind of explorations and mockups remotely.

        They'd prefer to "invest"[1] in a glitzy central London beehive an force the drones into line.

        Perhaps if they hadn't laid off 15% of their workforce...

        [1] By "invest" I mean "waste in the most pointless way imaginable".

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

          >Almost like Zoom can't be arsed, or doesn't know how, to build the collaboration tools to support those kind of explorations and mockups remotely.

          Microsoft Teams isn't that expensive, alternately you can use the free option on a bunch of other apps

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

          >” Almost like Zoom … doesn't know how, to build the collaboration tools…”

          Don’t see that as a problem: throw some money and set some bright minds to work, using their first hand experience of such matters..

          The concern must be that as you say TPTB can’t be arsed.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

      I think the likely explanation is that they're stuck with it. Probably on a long lease and the landlord knows what their prospects of re-letting are so wants a large sum for early termination.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

        This article- <https://www.uctoday.com/collaboration/zoom-increases-focus-with-new-uk-offices/> seems to imply they made the return to office decision before they signed the 5 year lease. Given the CoViD experience and their claimed importance of local presence, it seems daft they went for a single large London office rather than 3~4 smaller regional offices/hubs).

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 15,000 sq ft central London site??

          It seems daft that anyone does.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh nooooooo. Admins won't be able to hide behind their email inbox and will be forced to perform their job! Oh the humanity.

    1. K

      You'd think... but no cigar, at least for a lot of IT folk.

      Many companies have tried,.and all they got was deaf-ears..

      Let's face it, Your IT managers and directors have all brought houses in the country or by the beach. If they're not going in, there is no chance your average Sysadmin will..

      Still, trying to enforce it would be short sighted - the IT market is bouyant, so all they'd achieve is an exodus of their key staff.. cause plenty of other companies are offering flexibility.

  11. Snowy Silver badge
    Joke

    If you

    Live 51 miles away do you still get to be 100% remote?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: If you

      Milton Keynes is circa 52 miles and by train is probably quicker and easier to get into Holborn than from many other places closer in to London…

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: If you

        But then you're in Milton Keynes.

        1. Spanners Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: If you

          That's still not far away enough from London for me. I am currently in Coventry and that is too close.

          I come from Orkney There is high-speed broadband going past what was my parents' house. That is far enough.

          1. NeilPost

            Re: If you

            … and also has the Coventry drag factor.

            The London North-western Railway v’s Avanti is also another coat drag - esp. peak Avanti costs.

  12. K

    Commute should be considered contracted hours...

    Easy way to fix this, commute time should be considered part of our contracted hours, and travel costs treated as expenses.

    We'll then see how keen the CxO's are on a return to office!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Commute should be considered contracted hours...

      They already see WfH as "perk" that saves you money and time and therefore an employment benefit :-/

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Commute should be considered contracted hours...

      "part of our contracted hours"

      Or overtime at appropriate overtime rates.

  13. T. F. M. Reader
    WTF?

    I must be out of touch from all the remote work... [*]

    What the hell is an "agile table"???

    [*] Disclaimer: I work at the office (including all the way through Covid) and I don't do "agile". I do work at a table (a.k.a. "desk").

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: I must be out of touch from all the remote work... [*]

      Suspect it is a reference to a table on wheels that has a surface suitable for writing on with dry markers…

      Alternatively, it means a table free of a desktop computer etc. that can be used as a table…

      I doubt it is a reference to updated versions of the 2008 Microsoft Surface multimedia “coffee table”.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I must be out of touch from all the remote work... [*]

      > What the hell is an "agile table"???

      It's a table you have to catch before you can use it. And it's pretty nimble too...

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I must be out of touch from all the remote work... [*]

      A four-legged table with one leg not quite the same length as the others. Also pretty nimble.

    4. NeilPost

      Re: I must be out of touch from all the remote work... [*]

      I’d suspect it comes from Viking Direct, has no (assembly) documentation and is missing some parts scheduled for delivery phase 2 in January.

  14. Ben 56

    Not eating their own dogfood

    No surprise Zoom is now failing.

    If they're not eating their own dogfood, and maintaining buildings they don't really need, then there's something seriously wrong with that remote conferencing company.

    Why should a customer buy Zoom's software if they themselves don't practice what they preach and invest 100% into the remote way?

    If it's management-employee trust issues, then there's a gap in the remote market right there, that Zoom aren't covering in their own area of expertise, which again suggests poor management.

  15. xyz123 Silver badge

    Zoom - software so piss poor that even Zoom won't use it.

  16. xyz123 Silver badge

    Who the hell uses Zoom for businesses anyway?

    We know its end-to-end encryption was just a bare faced lie, and that they stream and store every single zoom call to bejing.

    Paying companies have been live-banned for discussing Tibet MID-CALL, which means either an AI or human is watching your calls and taking note of them.

    Totally insecure and wouldn't put it past Zoom to 'slip-in' malware targetted at specific individuals and their jobs (which they can find out via scanning your calls).

    Hell it's an instantly-fireable offence to install Zoom on UK Government PCs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's an instantly-fireable offence to install Zoom on UK Government PCs.

      Citation Needed.

      I've heard about a ban on TikTok but all I can find on Zoom are articles from 2020 where GCHQ "strongly advises against use".

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        It upsets JRM because he's never worked out how to use it.

  17. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Agile tables

    We bought in a load of height adjustable tables with IoT connected motors (it is The Latest Thing, the salesman assured us).

    The CEO got IT to connect them to the Company Metrics Dashboard but there may have been a miscommunication (but IT are usually so good - we have learnt to say).

    The end result is that the tables require you to Work Agile - first, the 20 metre dash to the Board (Room) to book a table, then 200 slow squats during the day to keep up with the desk height and finally, the Most Agile, Full Extension barre work to reach the USB hub.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Agile tables

      Forgotten the squats and knee shuffle to locate a power outlet and connect the power lead..

  18. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    "Ghastly" - Marvin

    《This apparently makes meetings frictionless, and who doesn't want less friction in their lives?》

    Haven't heard the "frictionless" mantra much since the dot.com crash. As I remarked at that time, friction is actually is essential for a whole lot of things. Even sex doesn't generally work all that well without a modicum of friction.

    This Zoom corporate shangri-la is as Marvin might have put it:

    ...Ghastly," continued Marvin, "it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don't even talk about it... (HHGTTG)

  19. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Working in the office

    I was talking to a recruitment agent a couple of weeks ago. She was telling me that some companies are insisting on working in the office now, but they are struggling to get new people in because nobody is interested.

    So it sounds like wishful thinking by the companies concerned

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    don't blame employees blame offshoing

    Little point coming into the office when half the team is offshore so your day is filled with teams calls anyway....

    I've said this before but there's no pull factor to the office - no parking, rubbish equipment, a tiny smelly hot desk and gross food is what awaits you.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: don't blame employees blame offshoing

      It is the Elephant in the room.

      Manglement do not get it

  21. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Cunning Plan

    Here's a cunning plan that will have them coming back in droves courtesy of Jacob "Baldrick" Rees-Mogg...

    Just leave printed sheets on empty desks bearing the message:

    "sorry you were out when I visited".

    "I look forward to seeing you in the office very soon."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-61202152

  22. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    If ...

    You have to "book" a desk are you working from an office, or are they just pissing you about?

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