COVID-19

Zoom’s fate tied to future of remote work

Mitchell Hartman Nov 30, 2020
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A cat takes part in a Zoom call in Milan, Italy, this May. Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
COVID-19

Zoom’s fate tied to future of remote work

Mitchell Hartman Nov 30, 2020
Heard on:
A cat takes part in a Zoom call in Milan, Italy, this May. Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images
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One of the most talked-about companies this year is Zoom Video Communications, provider of the video-conferencing software that many of us have been using since the pandemic started.

Zoom reports its earnings later today. While the company’s been on a roll, uncertainty lies ahead.

(Full disclosure: The interviews for this story were done on Zoom, after a Marketplace news meeting on Zoom.)

“The entire world is sort of doing everything on Zoom. I mean it’s become one of those verbs like ‘Kleenex’ or ‘Zamboni’ or ‘Xerox,’ ” said Dan Romanoff, who covers the tech sector at Morningstar. Romanoff said many companies plan to let their workers keep working remotely after the pandemic.

“I don’t think we’re going to go back to everyone going to the office,” he said.

Still, Zoom could face headwinds once COVID-19 restrictions on work and social life are eased, said Scott Kessler, an analyst at consultancy Third Bridge. “How sustainable is the momentum as the world hopefully normalizes?” he asked.

When promising news on COVID-19 vaccines drives drug company stocks up, it tends to drag stock in Zoom and other remote communication companies down.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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