Zoom may invest in a $5 billion SPAC deal to take event-manager Cvent public, report says

Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaks with a treader after the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City.

Zoom is in discussions to invest in a $5 billion blank-check deal that would take event-management software company Cvent public, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The popular video-conferencing app is a potential investor in Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II, which is merging with Cvent in a transaction that values the cloud-based company at more than $5 billion including debt.

Zoom is trying to secure 10% of the equity being raised to support the deal, Bloomberg said, citing sources. The investment could complement Zoom’s burgeoning live-events strategy.

The company has been expanding its business through a series of recent product launches. On Wednesday, it announced the launch of a platform for hosting interactive and immersive virtual events – Zoom Events. Other new products include Zoom Phone, Zoom Room, and Zoom for Home.

Its software can also be used to administer chats, talks, and meet-ups on Cvent’s managing platform.

Zoom didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on its potential investment.

During 2020, the app became so popular that it was used for everything from graduation ceremonies to reunions, happy hours, and engagement parties. It recently went a step further to diversify beyond video chat by making its biggest acquisition yet, the near-$15 billion purchase of cloud contact center software-maker Five9.

Analysts say it could be looking at 11 other companies including Calendly, Twilio, and 8×8 to move beyond video calls.

Zoom’s stock price has surged more than 35% in the past 12 months, and is up 4% so far this year.

Read More: The head economist at a blockchain fintech firm names 2 of the most promising crypto SPAC deals on his radar – and explains why blank-check companies can be better alternatives to buying cryptocurrencies

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Five9 spikes as Zoom announces massive $14.7 billion deal to acquire cloud-based call center operator

Eric Yuan
  • Five9 soared as much as 15% early Monday following a deal to be acquired by Zoom Video Communications.
  • Zoom shares were lower after announcing the $14.7 billion all-stock transaction.
  • Zoom’s deal will serve as its entry into the $24 billion call center market.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shares of Five9 jumped as much as 15% on Monday on a deal by Zoom Video Communications to buy the cloud-based call center software maker in an all-stock transaction valued at $14.7 billion, building on Zoom’s business which has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Zoom in a joint statement said the deal will be its entry into the $24 billion contact center market and will boost its presence with enterprise customers. Five9 has more than 2,000 customers worldwide and it said it facilitates billions of customer engagements each year. Five9 stockholders will receive 0.5533 Class A shares of Zoom for each share of Five9 they own.

Five9 climbed 7.8% after stepping up by 15% to $196.99 in premarket trading. Shares of the company, which went public in April 2014, were on course to trade at all-time highs. The stock has risen by about 50% over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, Zoom stock was down 2% early Monday but has picked up 35% over the last year alongside its leap in business as millions of people worldwide took up videoconferencing for work and studying remotely because of the COVID-19 health crisis. The company, based in San Jose, California, in March posted a 326% spike in revenue to $2.65 billion.

“Enterprises communicate with their customers primarily through the contact center, and we believe this acquisition creates a leading customer engagement platform that will help redefine how companies of all sizes connect with their customers,” Eric Yuan, Zoom’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.

Zoom and Five9 expect the deal to close in the first half of 2022, subject to approval by Five9’s shareholders, among other conditions.

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Microsoft and Apple’s newest updates show how the pandemic has fundamentally changed our relationship with computers

woman on conference call video chat computer
  • Apple and Microsoft’s new software updates bring big changes to their video calling apps.
  • Other new features hope to help us better manage work-life balance.
  • The updates are a sign the way people use their computers has fundamentally changed over the past year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The world may be opening up again, but remote work is here to stay for many people. That’s the sentiment that has seemingly shaped the new updates coming to Windows and Mac computers later this year.

Apple and Microsoft are both introducing new features that vastly improve conference calls and the way we manage work-life balance, updates that will come as the majority of American workers continued working remotely into 2021, according to Gallup.

Some of these new features are a response to remote work, but they’re also a sign the two biggest operating systems see a fundamental shift in how we’ll use computers to work and communicate.

Microsoft unveiled Windows 11 on Thursday, its first major Windows update in six years. The free update will bring a slew of aesthetic changes to Windows computers this holiday season, but tighter integration with its Teams video chat app is one of the biggest updates. With Windows 11, Teams will sit right in the task bar so that you can start a text chat, video call, or voice call without having to launch the app.

Apple also announced big changes coming to FaceTime during its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month. That includes some Zoom-like features, such as grid view for group calls and the ability to create links to join FaceTime conferences from any device, marking the first time Apple has expanded FaceTime beyond its own products.

The iPhone maker is also launching a new capability called SharePlay that lets you watch movies and TV shows in sync with someone else via a FaceTime call – a feature that surely would have been appreciated over the past year as many sought to co-watch shows with friends and family.

But videoconferencing is only one aspect of remote work; there’s also the actual work. Apple’s macOS Monterey update and Microsoft’s Windows 11 will both have new tools for helping us better separate our digital work lives from our personal matters. Windows 11, for example, will let you create separate zones called Desktops tailored to different themes like work, personal, or gaming.

Apple is launching a new Focus mode that makes it possible to block out notifications based on your activity across all devices. That means no Facebook notifications during the workday and no Slack alerts past 6 p.m. if you so choose. Such features could be particularly useful as American workers are grappling with burnout, particularly over the past year. A survey conducted by Insider and SurveyMonkey that polled 1,093 working Americans in late April found that about 60% of respondents felt at least somewhat burned out. Nearly half of the respondents who reported feeling a little burned out said this happened over the past few months.

The launches also come at a time when there’s a desire to continue working remotely even after the pandemic. A national survey conducted in April 2020 by GetAbstract found that 43% of respondents said they wanted to continue working remotely more often moving forward.

Still, the software updates are just the latest example of how tech companies are tailoring their products around longterm behavioral changes. New laptops that debuted at the annual CES show in January came packed with technologies meant to improve video calling and security, such as sophisticated microphones and sensors that could lock your device when you’re away.

It’s possible many of these features would have arrived to Windows and macOS whether there was a pandemic or not. But what is certain is that more than a year of remote work has changed the way we use computers in both a professional and personal capacity. Now, we’re getting a sense of which trends the big tech companies think are here to stay.

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Zoom beats Wall Street expectations in its first-quarter earnings. Here’s how 8 insiders describe its whirlwind year.

eric yuan zoom
Zoom founder Eric Yuan speaks before the Nasdaq opening bell ceremony on April 18, 2019 in New York City.

  • Zoom had a chaotically extraordinary year in 2020, with usage and revenue skyrocketing.
  • Quarterly results reported Tuesday show it’s still expanding, but the growth rate is leveling out.
  • Now as the world reopens, Zoom faces new challenges to prove that it can adapt to a post-pandemic world.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The pandemic thrust Zoom into the global spotlight and made the video chat app a household name.

As the company scrambled to adapt to its newfound popularity, Zoom’s board started holding weekly – sometimes daily – briefings and on at least one occasion last year, CEO Eric Yuan personally held as many as 19 meetings in one day.

Zoom board member Santiago Subotovsky told Insider that Zoom’s experience was like if a “12-year-old had to go straight to college” as an influx of new users caused its annual revenue to skyrocket 326% between January 2020 and January 2021.

Now, its fiscal first-quarter results released Tuesday show its wild growth streak is leveling out.

Zoom reported Q1 revenue of $956.2 million, showing 191% year over year growth, which beat analyst estimates of $910.2 million compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings per share came in at $1.32, easily topping Wall Street predictions of $0.98.

Zoom also set full-year revenue guidance of $3.975 billion and $3.99 billion, a bit more than the $3.82 billion analysts forecasted. For comparison, last fiscal year it brought in $2.65 billion in revenue, so this represents continued growth even as pandemic restrictions are loosening, something analysts have been watching.

The stock initially dipped as much as 3% after hours before bouncing back and ticking up over 2%. Zoom’s guidance for its fiscal second quarter slightly missed the highest analyst estimates.

The results show how a slow-but-steady return to the office for many workers brings new challenges and opportunities. Zoom will have to show that its videoconferencing software can remain a foundational part of the modern workplace even when people can meet face-to-face.

To do so, the company will have to lean on strategies it developed during its period of whirlwind growth, which Subotovsky and seven other insiders and executives described to Insider earlier this year.

Click here to read the inside story of how Zoom navigated the pandemic and – what’s next for the video software giant.

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‘Vamp Me Via Zoom’: How personal ads at The New York Review of Books embraced the language of the pandemic

New York Skyline with Purple Sunset
New York, New York.

  • At The New York Review of Books, COVID-19, Zoom, and vaccines made their way into the personal ads.
  • Sharmaine Ong, who manages the ads, gave Insider a look at her favorites from the last year.
  • One began: “Tony Fauci Seeks Deborah Birx.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A few days ago, Sharmaine Ong, who manages the personal ads at The New York Review of Books, said she’d be happy to choose a few of her favorite listings from the last year or so, since COVID-19 first brought New York City to a standstill.

Moments later, an email arrived listing her top four.

Tony Fauci Seeks Deborah Birx – public health wonk seeks earthy Jewish woman for sniggering about the boss after work with our masks off,” read one of Ong’s favorites, from July 2020, when the real Fauci and Birx were often seen standing behind President Donald Trump at the White House.

Ong, who was promoted to advertising associate in January 2020, told Insider that as the pandemic picked up, she noticed a few interesting changes in the literary publication’s personals. These have long had a reputation as a mating ground for educated, sometimes wealthy, playful-with-words types.

Mentions of COVID, Zoom, and other pandemic-related topics spiked last year, as might be expected. (One from last July began with “In the time of Corona …”) Some ad-buyers said they were lonely during lockdowns. Others were looking for pen pals, since face-to-face meetings were difficult.

Ong, who started at the NYRB as an intern about three years ago, also said more young people began buying print ads as the pandemic worsened.

“When I started, I noticed a lot of ads run by 40 to 80-year-olds, but now I’m seeing some ads from 20 to 30 year olds, which is quite different,” she said.

Insider reached out to the email address attached to the Fauci/Birx ad. The ad-buyer introduced himself via email as Dr. Gabriel Ethan Feldman, who in 2011 was awarded $14.7 million as a federal whistleblower.

Feldman said via email that he’d mostly given up on internet dating, turning instead to print ads. The NYRB ad brought in a few replies. He’d gotten one date from it. They both wore masks. Nothing came of it.

“I thought it was a clever take as I am actually a real-life public health physician,” he said via email.

After a few back-and-forth emails, Feldman added,:”You can use my name, I don’t mind. Everyone knows I can’t find someone in NYC despite being a multimillionaire, nice Jewish doctor, federal whistleblower.”

Another of Ong’s favorites was published last summer: “Vamp Me Via Zoom or FaceTime. Set my soul afire. Instagram my eager ego. Hashtag my desire. Though our lips may never meet. Tweet me, baby, tout de suite!”

The NYRB usually increases its classified-ad rates each year but the company decided not to raise them last year during the pandemic, Ong said. The uptick in personal ad sales last summer outpaced growth in other ad categories at the NYRB, she said.

Rates for print ads ranged from $4.40 to $5.85 per word, depending on the number of issues the listing ran in. Emails counted as two words, phone numbers as one.

By this spring, the Zoom references had started being phased out, replaced instead by vaccine references.

In March, the publication printed the most recent of Ong’s favorites: “Pair of Unrepentant Queers (one pansexual Asian punk femme & one curly-haired nonbinary flâneur) found love in these pages. Seeking COVID-negative company to complete the hat trick; be enlightening, generous, flexible, spirited.”

The final of Ong’s favorite ads from the last year wasn’t pandemic related. It was more in the spirit of the playful ads that have been running since 1968, when the NYRB published its first personal ad.

It read: “Ancient Bay Area live oak, still acorning, seeks fertile soil for sweet kindness. All species welcome.”

That one was written by Daniel Raskin, 77, a retired preschool teacher, widower, and grandfather living in San Francisco. He wrote it for the magazine’s personals contest, which it won. He said via email that he’d run a few other personal ads in the magazine in past. They had led to coffee dates. But he only got two replies this time.

“It was too quirky to expect responses,” he said.

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How Zoom’s chief people officer handled unprecedented growth during the pandemic

Lynne Oldham
Lynne Oldham is the chief people officer at Zoom.

  • Lynne Oldham oversaw Zoom’s HR response during the pandemic.
  • The company started hiring for hundreds of openings to meet 30x increases in demand in March 2020.
  • Oldham brought in a new chief diversity officer who helped reshape the company’s equity efforts.
  • This article is part of a series highlighting high achievers in HR called “Most Innovative HR Leaders.”

There aren’t many companies or products that have been as central to the pandemic workplace experience as Zoom.

In a six-week period, the video meeting software went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million, a 30 times increase that put chief people officer Lynne Oldham in a very complicated situation. She had to increase the employee headcount significantly while moving the entire company remote and meeting the needs of this skyrocketing demand. For these efforts, Oldham was also named one of Insider’s HR Innovators for 2021.

Over the past year, Zoom added new leadership in cybersecurity, engineering and product, and a chief diversity officer. It also made an acquisition of Keybase, further complicating the execution of Oldham’s workforce strategy as they added hundreds of new employees.

Oldham also had to keep pre-pandemic employees top of mind. These workers were tasked with handling the initial bursts of demand, as well as a sharp shift to remote work.

“Zoom’s workforce was only 15% remote pre-pandemic,” Oldham said. “This meant most Zoom employees were navigating a new work from home environment while also working long hours to keep the Zoom platform up, and make updates to address the needs of new users and educate new users.”

One of her first priorities was holistic support for employees, adding new mental health benefits and wellness offerings, which expanded from covering gym memberships to covering grocery and food delivery, home office furniture, and more.

Oldham and her team also created “Camp Zoomitude” for the children of Zoom employees. This summer program provided “camp-based” virtual activities three days a week and featured family sing-a-longs on Fridays.

Screen Shot 1400 02 15 at 11.27.06
A screenshot from Camp Zoomitude, hosted by Jodi Rabinowitz, head of talent and organizational development at Zoom.

For newer employees, Oldham put a heavy emphasis on their digital onboarding program. Knowing they would be adding to their headcount significantly, Zoom leadership knew their onboarding needed extra attention. Oldham notes that today approximately a third of company employees are so new that they have never set foot in an office or met their coworkers.

Zoom announced the hiring of chief diversity officer Damien Hooper-Campbell in late May 2020. After George Floyd’s murder, Oldham facilitated an “all hands” town hall-style meeting to hear from employees on how they were feeling. In follow-up, executive leaders held additional listening sessions with Black employees to continue gathering feedback.

“Learning and education, we believed, were the key to making Zoom a more inclusive workplace,” Oldham said.

Continuing on the theme of education, Zoom launched ZoomTalks, a nine-part series of discussions on race in America completed in partnership with TIME and the University of Southern California where Hooper-Campbell was a co-host. Zoom also forged a five-year partnership with Claflin University, an HBCU, that will spend $1.2 million to provide internships, scholarships, technical support, strategy support, and more.

For Oldham, the main lesson from the pandemic was the responsibility for the holistic support of employees and the role that HR can play there.

“We are now all working through the cracks of life rather than just trying to live life through the cracks of work,” she said. “This means for the HR profession that social engineering will be more critical than ever. Understanding social capital and the nature of the remote workspace is going to be vital so that we can help create collaborative, innovative work cultures in the new remote/hybrid world.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still planning to fly to India this month despite a surge in COVID-19 cases

Boris Johnson
  • Labour told Boris Johnson to cancel his planned trip to India next month.
  • It comes amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases there.
  • “I’d much rather the prime minister did it by Zoom rather than traveling to India,” said Labour’s Steve Reed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The opposition Labour Party has told Boris Johnson to cancel his planned trip to India for talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases.

The prime minister is set to visit India on April 26, and Downing Street has refused to cancel it, with a Number 10 spokesman on Friday saying the trip had been made “slightly shorter than it will have been.”

Labour on Sunday said Johnson should cancel the trip altogether.

“I think he shouldn’t be [traveling to India],” Labour’s shadow communities secretary told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“There are new variants emerging all around the world, the government is telling people ‘don’t travel if you don’t absolutely have to travel.’

“I can’t see why the prime minister can’t conduct his business with the Indian government via Zoom.”

“The prime minister, like all of us in public life, needs to try and set an example. I’d much rather the prime minister did it by Zoom rather than traveling to India.”

India reported a further 261,500 coronavirus cases on Sunday, per Reuters, a figure which has surged in recent weeks.

That took the total number of confirmed cases to nearly 14.8 million, with the chief minister of New Delhi warning that hospital beds were “filling fast.”

The new Indian variant of the COVID-19 virus is potentially very dangerous, experts warn.

It has two mutations that allow the virus to lessen the potency of the vaccine.

The variant – officially named B.1.617 – is believed to driving the spike in India’s cases and 77 cases have been reported in the UK, Sky News reported.

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson was also unable to explain on Friday why India had not been placed on the red list of countries from which people arriving in the UK must enter quarantine.

Johnson was due to visit India for four days for talks with the government, but most meetings will now occur on Monday, April 26, Downing Street said, per BBC News.

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We compared Google Meet and Zoom to see which is better for remote working and learning – and Zoom has a slight edge for large meetings

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Google Hangouts vs Zoom 4x3
  • If you’re learning or working from home, a video conferencing tool is a must.
  • Two of the best services out there are Google Meet and Zoom.
  • Zoom supports larger meetings, but Google Meet is conveniently packaged with other Google services.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyPro Plan (Monthly) (small)G Suite Business Account (Monthly) (small)

Two of the most popular video communication tools for remote work and learning are Google Meet and Zoom. The two services are used by workplaces and classrooms around the world. Both provide the ability to interact with other participants through video conferencing, enabling businesses and schools to conduct remote meetings and lessons through a variety of apps and devices.

But which of these tools is ultimately better? And which might work best for your needs? We put Google Meet and Zoom head to head to find out.

Google Meet vs Zoom: Which is better?

Google Meet and Zoom are both video conferencing services and they offer a lot of the same features. But one service may be a better fit for your needs depending on the size of your team and what other applications you plan to use.

When it comes purely to video conferencing features, Zoom has a slight edge over Google Meet, offering a comprehensive assortment of options at various price points. Zoom’s most expensive plan provides support for the largest number of participants.

That said, if you’re looking for a bigger collection of applications to use in tandem with your video conferencing service, then Google Meet might be a better fit. The platform, formerly known as Google Hangouts Meet, comes bundled with other helpful Google services as part of a Google Workspace subscription.

Feature comparison

Google Meet Zoom
Free option Yes Yes
Monthly price $6-$25 per user $15-$20 per license
Participants Up to 250 Up to 1,000
Meeting time limit up to 24 hours Up to 30 hours
Platforms Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Pricing and plans

Google Meet and Zoom are both available in a variety of plans for different monthly costs, with certain features only available via certain packages.

Zoom plans

The basic version of Zoom is available for free, but there are some limitations to this option. Notably, you can only host meetings of up to 100 people and group meetings can only be up to 40 minutes.

Pricing for Zoom’s premium plans can get a little complicated if you need more than what the free version has to offer. Here’s a full rundown of packages:

Plan Price Participants Time Hosts
Zoom Basic: Free Up to 100 40 minutes One
Zoom Pro: $15/month/host Up to 100 30 hours 1-9
Zoom Business: $20/month/host Up to 300 30 hours 10-99
Zoom Enterprise: $20/month/host Up to 500 30 hours 50+

Starting with the Pro plan, members receive social media streaming, 1 GB of cloud recording, and personal meeting IDs. When you step up to Business, you get some advanced administrative features, like transcript recording, managed domains, and company branding. Enterprise upgrades you to unlimited cloud storage.

You can also add the “Large Meetings” add-on to any paid plan to get support for up to 1,000 participants.

Outside of its workplace plans, Zoom also has specific solutions geared toward education. Education plans are available for a minimum of 20 hosts and a max of 149 hosts. Each host can have unlimited meetings with support for up to 300 participants. You can find more information on pricing and features for Zoom’s Education plan here.

Google Meet plans

When it comes to Google Meet, you also have a few different options to choose from. Though a free version of Meet wasn’t originally available, Google now offers free access to a limited version of the service.

To unlock more features, you’ll need to pay for Google Meet as part of a subscription to Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Workspace comes with a full suite of additional Google cloud services, including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, and more. Here’s a full breakdown of Google Meet options via Google’s different Workspace plans:

Plan Price Participants Time Users
Google Meet: Free Up to 100 One hour (groups) One
Business Starter: $6/month/user Up to 100 24 hours 300 max
Business Standard: $12/month/user Up to 150 24 hours 300 max
Business Plus: $18/month/user Up to 250 24 hours 300 max
Enterprise: Varies Up to 250 24 hours No max

The Business Standard plan adds recording support. Meanwhile, Business Plus adds attendance tracking. Finally the Enterprise plan adds a noise-cancellation feature and “in-domain” live streaming.

Like Zoom, Google also offers education-specific Google Meet solutions. You can find more information about Google Workspace for education here.

Extra features

Zoom video conferencing

Zoom is a dedicated video conferencing service built by a company that is mainly focused on that platform. As such, Zoom is a little more comprehensive than Google Meet. Sure, Meet scores points thanks to its seamless integration with other Google apps, and the fact that it comes bundled with a host of other services, but if you’re really only looking for a video conferencing platform, those other apps won’t matter all that much.

Google Meet caps out at 250 participants and 24 hours, but Zoom can support up to 30 hours and has an option to add support for up to 1,000 participants for an extra fee. Most teams won’t need the expanded support that Zoom provides – but for some businesses, this ability could be the deciding factor.

When it comes to general features, Meet and Zoom both offer many of the same basic functions, like call encryption, support for up to 720p HD video, and presentation modes that allow for screensharing to other participants.

Google Meet has also made some big improvements over the last few months by adding additional options that were initially only found on Zoom, like polls, a tiled gallery layout for larger calls, and video filters so you can change your background. Both Zoom and Meet will let you split up calls into breakout rooms as well.

You can go further with both video conferencing services by hosting a session with a whiteboard. Participants in Meet and Zoom can also raise their hands if they have to say something in a class or company meeting.

Though Google Meet was initially missing a lot of these extra functions, the difference between both services has steadily decreased.


Google Hangouts Meet integrations
Google Meet can integrate with other services.

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider is how each platform integrates with other services. Notably, Google Meet allows users to integrate meetings with other teams using Skype for Business, and other video meeting systems based on the SIP and H.323 standards. Meet also integrates with additional apps, including other Google services. For example, the service integrates well with Google Calendar

Zoom offers some great integrations too – including some Google apps and services. For example, Zoom integrates with Facebook Workplace, Skype for Business, Salesforce, Microsoft Outlook, Google Drive, Google Calendar, and more. While Meet may make integration with Google services a little easier, Zoom still allows many of those same integrations as well.

The bottom line

Zoom meeting
Zoom is the more comprehensive service for dedicated video conferencing needs.

Zoom offers support for the most amount of people and the longest meeting times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right option for everyone. Zoom’s edge over Meet has diminished greatly over the last few months as Google added a lot of new features. Still, if you just want a service purely for video conferencing, then Zoom has a slight edge.

That said, if you want to use other Google services that come included with a Google Workspace subscription, then Meet will be more than good enough for your remote work or learning needs.

You can get Google Meet from the Google Workspace website, or sign up for Zoom at the Zoom website.

Pro Plan (Monthly) (small)G Suite Business Account (Monthly) (small)

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Remote work is here to stay. Here’s how hiring a virtual assistant can help your company thrive.

woman laptop coffee job interview virtual
The support of a strong virtual team can make you a better leader.

  • Jeff J Hunter is an author and founder of virtual assistant staffing agency VA Staffer.
  • He says all business leaders can benefit from hiring a virtual assistant.
  • Having a flexible and well-run virtual team is key for time management and improved productivity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This is a very unique time to build a business. Brick and mortar companies are struggling and local “mom & pop” shops are closing at a record pace. Yet, there’s record growth for online service providers like Netflix, Amazon, DoorDash, and Zoom.

The one thing all of these growing companies have in common? They support the “stay-at-home” lifestyle and the “new normal” of working remotely.

Entrepreneurs can learn from an evolving global economy and the new normal of work. Here’s how some businesses did it:

  1. Restaurants admitted they can not replace the experience of dining in their establishments. But meals-to-go, with the inclusion of cashless payments, allowed restaurateurs to have a new lifeline.
  2. Online shopping has been around for quite some time. When the pandemic hit, the retail industry embraced the new segment of customers – mall-goers – to encourage them to buy. Online purchasing and shipping options made the transition easy for customers, and Amazon has cashed in record profits.
  3. Reduced movie-goers spending did not stop the entertainment industry from thriving. Companies pivoted to provide streaming services for stay-at-home amusement. Theaters, on the other hand, got destroyed, for obvious reasons.
  4. Local tourism, virtual tours, and travel-to-nowhere flights and cruises allowed travel lust individuals to experience traveling albeit limited. Personally, I think this is an incredible time to travel (by car) because not many are!
  5. Tech giants like Facebook and Twitter allowed their employees to work from home. Google has announced their employees will be allowed “flexible work.”

What made some businesses thrive and some permanently close? They adapted to the disruption through innovation and hard work. These two characteristics are what entrepreneurs are made of.

My own COVID adaptation

Just like every business owner, I was really worried when the lockdown was announced in March 2020. We had several clients cancel their virtual assistant services that we provided. Nevertheless, my business thrived. Since COVID, I have experienced an over 100% growth in our virtual assistant staffing agency for entrepreneurs and startups all around the world.

That’s because last year, building a “virtual team” sounded cool, but today, it’s a necessity for businesses to survive the current economic conditions.

Yes, a virtual team is the “new normal” of work. It is about time you hire one.

My secret weapon

My executive assistant Ysabelle, who is virtual, starts working for me one hour before I even wake up. This arrangement works because the first thing I do when I wake up is grab my phone off of my nightstand to check my messages. Now, Ysabelle goes through my emails and clears out all the hundreds of messages that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on. She leaves the ones that need my attention marked as “unread” with a flag.

Because I have over 100 people on my team, she knows exactly who’s responsible for certain operations in the business. So when I get an email that requires action on someone else’s part, Ysabelle sends the email to that team member and responds to the sender that we’ve got it taken care of. The sender probably thinks I sent the response – and that’s the point.

You see, I didn’t need to be in that conversation. With Ysabelle’s help, I can focus on myself and the really important activities for the day.

Why did I share this with you? I want you to understand that you can only do so much. The biggest lie is “I was about to do something but I ran out of time.” It’s simply not true. You just don’t want to be held accountable, or you don’t have adequate help so you have to prioritize what you do and don’t do each day.

If you are the only one in your business who knows everything, you are going to be a slave to your business. One of my colleagues once said, “If you don’t have an assistant, you are one.” Think about that.

Remote work is no longer a thing of the past. I don’t believe it’s going to go away. The current global crisis was a catalyst for the growing move to a virtually connected world. There is hardly anything we do in our business that can’t be done remotely, unless you physically make, or build something. Entrepreneurs who can adapt and evolve to the new “virtual workplace” and see its benefits will be able to future-proof their business as the economy moves remote.

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If you’re experiencing Zoom burnout, try audio-only meetings to help boost productivity and imagination

Zoom Fatigue
When we have Zoom fatigue from too much screen time, we tend to remember less information.

  • Zoom fatigue is more than eye strain from screen time – it hurts our productivity and job performance.
  • Over video, we work harder to send and receive nonverbal cues, and this can become exhausting.
  • Try audio-only meetings instead to stimulate the imagination and help prevent mental overload.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Just as other brand names make their way into the dictionary, Zoom has now become a daily verb and a noun. We Zoom each other, we say “Let’s have a Zoom,” and we get Zoom fatigue. Now there’s Zoom burnout as well – a phrase that encompasses a lot more than the eye strain of too much screen time.

Emerging research shows we get less done and we may end up unnecessarily replicating communication in our personal and working lives. A new study highlights the causes of this fatigue and how to deal with it.

Too much Zooming can become mentally demanding. There’s a lot of evidence that when people are mentally tired, they tend to act less efficiently. Sustained performance on a mentally demanding task decreases over time.

Also, when we’re fatigued, our working memory performs less well. We become forgetful, our listening quality degrades, and recording Zoom meetings for later viewing simply creates more energy sapping screen time.

The online meetings designed to get things done could be the very things harming our productivity, just at a time when margins are particularly tight and businesses are financially on the edge. And there’s some evidence that using audio only might be more productive than an overload of screen meetings.

Zoom fatigue

The new study highlights the psychological impact of spending hours each day on a range of video calling platforms. The study found people often reach “nonverbal overload” with too much eye contact. This means we need to work harder to send and receive all those nonverbal signals that are lost when many of us are just a head filling the screen.

In face-to-face meetings, another study points out, nonverbal communication flows naturally and “we are rarely consciously attending to our own gestures and other nonverbal cues.” This is one of the reasons many people can’t wait to get back to face-to-face. For others, Zooming is fine until the fatigue kicks in, then an unease arises.

This is where the good old phone meeting could come in. The same study describes “a wonderful illusion that occurs during phone calls.” We’re no longer weighed down with nonverbal overload or eye contact meltdown. We may even stretch, move around the room, even make a cup of tea as we speak.

We tend to imagine we are getting 100% of the others’ attention on a phone call. The researchers conclude that “only a minority of calls require staring at another person’s face to successfully communicate.”

Give up Zoom?

Many experts are now calling for fewer Zoom meetings.

Yet, evidence for seriously considering meeting over the phone comes from other academic work that goes back a lot further. Early studies comparing TV radio, newspapers, and computer screens identified newspapers as enabling significantly highest recall of facts. Computer screens surprisingly performed closer to newspapers and better than TV and radio. So, one up for the screens? The problem is we tend to remember less when we have screen fatigue.

In contrast, a lot of research confirms how radio stimulates the imagination. “I prefer radio to TV because the pictures are clearer,” goes the old saying. Whether with the phone, radio, or podcasts, our active imagination is more engaged actively listening than when we passively view. And we can become very passive when we’re screen exhausted.

Some neuroscience research has confirmed that when our imaginations are active they can become more emotionally stimulated. Scientists have interpreted this as an indicator that the audio content requires active imagination on the part of the listener.

One further piece of research becomes critical here, suggesting that imagination runs hand in hand with motivation. According to this view, imagination can make us more goal directed, more likely to get things done. Zoom fatigue can have the opposite effect. The imaginative process inherent in the audio call increases the likelihood that we’ll make good on our intentions.

If this is true – and there needs to be more research in the problem – it will certainly be time to become more conscious of when and how often we meet on Zoom, for how long and for what purpose.

Try holding some of your work meetings by phone. It might seem strange at first and take a bit of getting used to, but you might just find your meetings are more productive and satisfying. Your imagination might kick into gear and re-fire your motivation. I’m not saying banish all the Zooming, just re-balance your use of audio and screen.

Paul Levy, senior researcher in innovation management, University of Brighton.

The Conversation
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