Next boss Lord Simon Wolfson has said endless video meetings risk “death by PowerPoint” as firms begin to feel the benefit of workers returning to the office.
The retail chief, the longest serving chief executive across the FTSE 100, earlier this year likened Zoom calls to lectures – and yesterday warned digital conferences can become a sea of “nodding heads” while the speaker scrolls through a PowerPoint.
“Zoom, and other video chat methods, have been remarkable in their ability to facilitate communication between people who are in very different parts of the country or indeed the world,” Wolfson told LBC yesterday morning.
“But equally, we’ve got to be very careful that you don’t end up with one person sitting there with ‘death by PowerPoint’.”
Where Zoom goes wrong, according to Wolfson, is the lack of social interaction within the platform.
However, in general, the video chat giant been “incredibly useful” in the transition to and from work from home measures.
“Like all tools, Zoom can be incredibly useful and powerful in moving businesses forward and communicate in ways they never thought possible before.”
Since work from home (WFH) measures swept across the country last year at the height of the pandemic, the UK’s business landscape has had to be swift in its adaptation of new working life.
The changes appear to be long-term, with an increasing number of businesses updating their remote working policies in their bid to appease workers – of which some basked in the opportunity to skip their commute and others, did not.
“To get the balance right, it can’t be done at a company level. It needs to be done at the level of different departments,” he said, explaining that a computer programmer’s schedule will differ vastly from that of a designer.
Wolfson added that experience levels will also play a part, as those who are “brand new” in a role will need to spend more time in-office than workplace veterans.
“I don’t think one rule to suit them all is going to be the answer for it.”
The Next boss, who has been at the helm of the retail heavyweight for two decades, praised how quickly UK business evolved amid the Covid-19 crisis, as the sudden shift has been successful for the majority of firms.
“I think the country’s done remarkably well and I think all of us involved in business have learnt a huge number of lessons about what can be achieved outside of the physical office.
“It will be very interesting to see how many of those lessons can be taken forward to improve both working efficiency and quality of life going forward.”