• Zoom was a rare pandemic success story. 
  • But as people return to the office, Zoom needs to branch out from virtual meetings, its key feature.
  • To adapt to a hybrid world, Zoom is ready for a radical change, an exec says.

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As companies begin to order workers back to the office, it feels like the curtain is coming down on the golden age of remote work.

For companies like video-communication platform Zoom, the transition means a drastic change to adapt to a new world of work, says its EMEA chief Frederik Maris.

“Two years ago, it was basically meetings only,” Maris told Insider in an interview at the recent Gitex tech conference. “Now we are becoming a completely different company.”

“Our logo and our brand — it’s a blessing and a curse because everybody knows Zoom, but everybody knows us only for meetings,” he said.

The company reaped huge success during the pandemic. While other companies saw revenues slump amid lockdowns and anxiety about coronavirus, Zoom boomed. Businesses, schools, and even friends started using the platform as a way to stay in touch without spreading the virus.

Now, even Zoom, one of remote work’s main enablers and beneficiaries, has succumbed to return-to-office pressure and ordered some workers back. In August, the company said employees living within 50 miles of a Zoom office must go in at least two days a week.

With the working landscape changing, Zoom is looking to branch out.

It’s attempting to enable productivity and engagement, with a heavy focus on AI. In September, Zoom launched an AI assistant that can be used for tasks such as drafting emails and messages, summarizing meetings, and helping with brainstorming sessions.

The product is similar to AI-powered workplace tools such as Google’s duet AI and Microsoft’s Copilot.

“Everyone is trying to figure out how to use AI in a way that helps workers be more productive,” Maris said of its rivals. “We see Microsoft as a much more direct competitor.”

Microsoft is also a competitor in other parts of Zoom’s business.

Insider reported earlier this year that Zoom executives were internally claiming that one of the company’s new employee engagement products, Workvivo, was winning up to 80% of sales when competing against Microsoft’s Viva, per a recording of an all-hands meeting.

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Beatrice Nolan