Zoom has seen a boom in usage since the coronavirus swept the globe and caused millions to work, study and socialise from home. However, the video call application is now looking to the future, when some people will be able to head back into the office. The latest update is designed to make that transition back into brick-and-mortar workplaces smoother.

To do that, it has added a bunch of features to Zoom Rooms, including the ability to count the number of people inside a conference room – so you can judge whether you’ll be able to maintain social distancing when attending in-person or whether it’s better to join the call virtually, adjust video conferencing equipment without touching any surfaces, and even measure the ventilation and air quality in a space.

Zoom has even considered the front desk of your office. A new Kiosk Mode will allow a virtual receptionist, working from home but appearing on-screen using Zoom’s video call software, to greet you. They can check the status of current meetings, as well as making sure meeting spaces aren’t too crowded.

Virtual receptionists can also set up contactless entry for building guests – all from the comfort of their homes.

If your office has ordered a Neat Bar – a meeting room device that’s part of Zoom’s ecosystem of partner devices – for its conference rooms, the latest update will let people in your workplace monitor meeting rooms with metrics like air quality, humidity, and CO₂. This extra information should reassure those concerned about attending a meeting face-to-face that everything will be fine, or that it might be safer to attend the meeting virtually.

To help those who do decide to attend remotely, when using a whiteboard in a meeting to help illustrate your point, Zoom now lets you send the whiteboard to participants attending online using Zoom Chat or email after the fact.

According to Zoom, many of these features were already in the works before the pandemic hit, however, some of these were accelerated because of the way the pandemic has shifted consumer behaviour.

Speaking to Cnet about the changes, head of Zoom Rooms Jeff Smith said: “We’ve seen a lot of focus from customers looking for how to return to offices in a way that is both highly productive and safe and respectful of workers’ concerns. As you look at the set of features as a whole, it really is centred on ease of use, and safety and respect for people who are working through some very unique challenges in their workspaces.”


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