Zoom CFO explains how the company’s employees avoid work-from-home fatigue


Zoom CFO Kelly Steckelberg said Wednesday she’s well aware of the toll working from home can have on employees, and offered insight into how the company that’s become synonymous with videoconferencing during the pandemic tries to prevent burnout among its own staff.

Steckelberg’s comments on “Closing Bell” come after so-called Zoom fatigue attracted renewed attention earlier this week when Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser told employees she was banning internal video calls on Fridays. For many companies, it’s now been about a year since the Covid crisis prompted them to adopt remote work.

“We certainly understand that being on video all day long can be challenging,” Steckelberg said. “We spend a lot of time working with our own internal employees to help them understand how to optimize and take a break during the day.”

Steckelberg said a way to get that reprieve could include taking one call or meeting per day during an outdoor walk. Another possibility, she said, is setting meetings for 25 minutes or 55 minutes instead of 30 minutes or an hour.

“That gives you that little break,” Steckelberg said. “I think what we’re all suffering from is that break we used to get just walking from room to room. Now, you jump from meeting to meeting and it takes literally seconds.”

The lack of differentiation between work and home can be challenging, she said.

“Our days aren’t punctuated currently by our commutes or stopping end of your day to go pick up your children,” she said. “So, we really have guided our employees internally to think about having boundaries, to make sure that you set aside your golden hours of the day that are really important for you and your family, and I think all of that leads to all of us finding that better balance in our life that we may have been challenged with over the last year.”

Zoom’s business has boomed during the pandemic, and its stock took off with it, rising about 400% in 2020. In 2021, however, shares have struggled as rising bond yields pressured high-growth companies and investors rotated into stocks that stand to benefit from a robust economic reopening. Zoom shares are down about 6.6% year to date.

Companies are rethinking their return-to-work policies now as Covid vaccinations become more widespread. On Monday, for example, Microsoft said it was starting to bring employees back to its Redmond, Washington, headquarters in some capacity next week.

Steckelberg said Zoom has heard from its customers that a hybrid approach — some time in the office, some days remote — will be significantly more commonplace after the pandemic. Zoom figures to play a crucial role in the changed corporate landscape, she said, as well as the social one now that more people have turned to video calls stay connected with friends.

“We’re working and innovating with all of our customers to figure out what’s going to work with them best when we can move around the world safely but combining this to have the convenience it’s provided with us over the past year,” she said.

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