Zoom, the prominent video communications company that gained widespread popularity during the pandemic, has taken a step back from its remote work policy by requiring employees to return to the office. The company announced a “structured hybrid approach,” urging staff living within 50 miles of an office to work in person at least twice a week. This shift follows a trend among major firms, including Amazon and Disney, that have scaled back remote work days.

The move comes as surveys indicate that many workers still value the option to work remotely to some extent. In the US, where Zoom is headquartered, around 12% of workers were fully remote in July, with an additional 29% adopting hybrid policies, according to a monthly survey conducted by Stanford University and others.

Zoom had previously allowed staff to work remotely indefinitely, but the company’s new policy will be implemented gradually across August and September. The company emphasises that its goal remains hiring the best talent regardless of location. With around 8,400 employees globally, more than half based in the US, Zoom aims to leverage its own technology to facilitate efficient communication among dispersed teams.

The decision reflects a broader challenge for Zoom as rivals like Microsoft enhance their video communication offerings, and as the initial surge in growth during the pandemic subsides. Earlier this year, Zoom announced staff cuts of 15%, coupled with pay reductions for top executives, due to the slowdown in growth. The company’s shares have also experienced a significant drop from their peak in October 2020, currently standing at around US$68 each.