Remember when the definition of the word “zoom” was to move quickly or suddenly with a loud humming or buzzing sound? That was then, clear back in 2019, before a pandemic, before massive business shutdowns, before the earthquake, before the gale force winds that wreaked havoc on much of northern Utah and resulted in days of power outages across the Wasatch Front. Today, what seems like decades later, it means something entirely different.
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service that can be used to meet virtually by video and audio, or, if you didn’t comb your hair, just audio. Although developed in 2013, the service saw minimal growth until 2020. By Feb. 26, the company announced that they had already doubled their user numbers in the first two months of the year than they had throughout the entire year of 2019.
It is no surprise. Nearly all office work throughout the world became virtual. Engineers, architects, accountants, government workers, lenders, teachers and psychologists would all get the opportunity to see themselves from the waist up. The computer camera would suddenly become a close-up mirror where we could examine our every facial flaw and out-of-place hair while “listening intently and enraptured” to the presenter.
As a local Realtor, this is relevant to me. Not only have I done my share of meeting both new and existing clients through Zoom, a “Zoom Room” has become a highly desirable feature in a home. In fact, I would be more inclined to mention a Zoom Room over a hot tub in a listing description if I had to pick.
Frankly, a Zoom Room could be a dedicated office, an unfinished bedroom, a converted great room or even a closet. Last week, I had a couple call me to come take a look at their home. They planned to sell it and relocate, but they wanted to know how she could continue to work from home, as required by her employer, and still make the home presentable to sell. Since she works in the healthcare field, the current HIPAA privacy rule necessitates that she has complete privacy while working. They converted their formal living room in the front of their home to an office by adding a required wall and glass door to fit the requirements.
“That’s perfect,” I told her. “Now you have a Zoom Room! You don’t need to change a thing. An office space, right now, is far more desirable than a formal living room that nobody sits in, since no one is visiting anyway!” She was both surprised and relieved.
Even for employees who don’t necessarily require the privacy, the dedicated workspace is becoming a necessity. While it may have been cute to have the 2-year-old eating breakfast in the highchair behind you at the beginning of this unprecedented year, it is more of a distraction now. The 2-year-old is still funny and cute, as is the dog, the messy-haired adolescent and the foul-mouthed teen (although far less so), but the novelty has worn off and it’s time to get some work done.
Although my malfunctioning crystal ball tells me this 2020 disastrous mishap of a year won’t last forever (honestly, my bingo card is nearly filled), the Zoom Room boom will likely last much longer since the “new normal” will reasonably include more people continuing to work from home.