R.I.P Zoom Meetings — A Dearly Beloved COVID-19 Casualty

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom meetings skyrocketed in popularity across the globe. Suddenly every major corporation was holding digital meetings via Zoom and proclaiming its near-magical ability to keep employees connected and engaged.


The Glory Days of Zoom

In June of this year Zoom had 300 million daily participants, up from 10 million in January, with more than 100,000 schools across the globe using Zoom for online classes.


The company’s revenue more than doubled from the same time last year and hit $328 million, with a profit of $27 million — an astronomical increase from just $198,000 the previous year. Zoom has estimated that revenue for the full fiscal year will reach $1.8 billion. However, Zoom executives have acknowledged that its user base may shrink in the second half of the year if health worries caused by COVID-19 dissipate.


A Short-Lived Fad?

Despite Zoom’s powerful ability to keep teams connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, for many CEOs the honeymoon period has passed. 


According to NPR, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says virtual settings lack “creative combustion.” 


And Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called Zoom meetings transactional, where “30 minutes into your first video meeting in the morning . . . you’re fatigued.”


Back in April, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said his bank would require less real estate in the future because they’ve proven they can operate without a footprint.


However, executives have since changed their tunes about the impressive productivity of virtual meetings. Dimon has said that productivity has declined, especially on Mondays and Fridays, and the only solution for lackluster creativity is to bring employees back to the office.


Questionable and Disturbing Practices

Since the beginning of the Zoom craze, many employees, leaders and even journalists (talking about Jeffrey Toobin here) have made a — how shall we call it, fumble? — during a Zoom meeting. From using the bathroom, to considering pants optional, to . . . let’s not go into greater detail here. 


A survey by virtual tech firm Lucid found that many workers didn’t believe they had to behave properly during virtual meetings if their camera was off. One in 10 respondents admitted to using the bathroom while on a call. Other workers admitted to exercising, watching TV, cooking, showering, or preparing a meal while participating in a virtual meeting.


Maybe it was the endless headlines heralding a 100% remote future work environment that discouraged employees. Lucid’s Chief Marketing Officer Nathan Rawlins has said that because virtual meetings are usually a series of monologues, many employees check out and believe they can multitask. In addition, employees are annoyed at hearing multiple people speak at once, even though this may not be as distracting in a physical setting. According to the survey, as many as 25% of young workers were going against company pandemic restrictions and meeting with colleagues in person to discuss projects.


The Rebirth

Large companies like Facebook and Amazon have recognized the value of collaboration and are turning their sights to large office spaces in big cities. Though they promise to continue offering flexible work options, these tech giants recognize the need for in-person collaboration and face-to-face contact. 


The Zoom fad caused many businesses who had previously not allowed remote work to recognize its potential. However, one lesson that all Zoom users have undoubtedly learned is the fact that remote meetings will never replace in-person work environments. 


In a recent virtual conference organized by The Wall Street Journal, Nadella said, “What we as human beings need, want, seek … is human contact.”


Closing Thoughts

From our inception, QuickDraw Fund Control has been a remote platform business. It takes real-time and effort to meet in person and it’s very important to do so on a regular basis. While technology provides and now a pandemic requires us to work and conduct business remotely, there’s no substitute for being together. Your team members likely have very different thoughts about in-person meetings. Figure it out what works, inside or outside, plan something fun, and just be together. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of the time spent with each other. Nothing replaces seeing everyone’s faces and smiles. Cheers!  

November 10, 2020
QuickDraw Fund Control