This past spring, scores of employers made the decision to start bringing their employees back to the office. After allowing them to work remotely for a year or more, employers felt it was time to return to normal. But in so doing, they created a paradox – a paradox that does not sit well with employees. It is all about Zoom.

According to a Bloomberg piece published in April 2022, it’s not uncommon for workers going back to the office to still meet with their colleagues online. They go through all the trouble to arrange their lives so they can get back to the office, only to sit at their desks staring at a screen while taking in a Zoom meeting.

It would seem obvious for employees facing this scenario day after day to start asking themselves, “What’s the point?” Indeed, that is exactly what they are doing. If they are going to spend all day on Zoom, many feel they might just as well stay home.

  1. Why It’s Happening

So, what’s behind the paradox? Why is it happening? Zoom exposed one of corporate America’s biggest weaknesses: wasting time in the office. Middle management and C-suite executives hate to admit it, but the corporate environment is designed in such a way as to promote wasting time.

Take the typical office meeting. First, you need to corral everyone into the meeting room. You might be 10 or 15 minutes into the meeting time before this is accomplished. Then you need to get everybody focused on topic rather than talking about the weather and their families.

Throughout the meeting, there are constant interruptions. Participants get distracted while meeting leaders head down too many bunny trails. Strangely enough, videoconferencing tends to solve most of these problems. So much so that, even if their employers haven’t figured it out, employees have discovered that Zoom meetings tend to be more efficient and productive while also being shorter.

  1. Let’s Meet at Our Desks

One of the effects of the Zoom paradox is that employees returning to work are still meeting online from their desks. They can still get more done this way rather than going back to the old way.

It should also be noted that in-person meetings are not necessarily going by the wayside. They are still being conducted, but usually because employees in one location are meeting with their counterparts in another. So now you have multiple meeting rooms filled with people who are all trying to participate in a Zoom meeting.

This sort of thing can get quite messy. Again, it can encourage employees to wonder why they ever came back to the office. The same meetings were easier to conduct at home because you didn’t have 10 or 12 people all in the same room trying to use their phones to participate.

  1. Making the Best of Things

What are companies to do? Perhaps rethinking the need to be in the office is appropriate. Where an employer decides that this is not an option, Dallas-based BenefitMall suggests considering serious benefits and hardware upgrades. New devices and software better able to handle videoconferencing would go a long way toward helping employees make the best of the Zoom paradigm.

The prevailing thinking is that employees need to return to the office so that they can better collaborate and collectively boost company morale. Things haven’t worked out that way. Thanks to videoconferencing and other technologies, companies now face a paradox: their employees working remotely from their office desks. It is a strange thing to observe during a time when technology has so profoundly changed the way we work.

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