This is part of CNBC Make It's My First Day Back series, where people share their stories of what it's like to return to the office after working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Are you planning to return to the office soon? Share your stories with us here.
Name: Nicole Perzigian
Office: Zoom's San Jose office
Working home since: Nov. 30, 2020
Returned: March 15, 2022
Return requirements: Proof of Covid-19 vaccine
Nicole Perzigian wasn't planning to switch careers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But when a recruiter from Zoom reached out to her on LinkedIn with an offer to lead the video conferencing platform's first-ever university recruiting and programs team, she thought the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Perzigian had worked at IBM for two years before joining Zoom – but she craved a new challenge.
"When I accepted the job and told friends I was going to Zoom, people shrieked as if I just landed a movie part alongside an A-list celebrity," Perzigian tells CNBC Make It. "I thought, 'Wow, Zoom really is a cool company, we've really been there for people during the pandemic.'"
In January, Zoom announced that employees could choose between hybrid, in-person or permanent remote work moving forward. After spending the pandemic working from her house in San Ramon, California, Perzigian was eager to find her desk and meet her team in person.
After joining Zoom in a remote environment, Perzigian was curious to see how the work relationships she built online would stack up in real-life — and if a company known for its video conferencing tools could make hybrid meetings less awkward.
CNBC Make It: What was your biggest fear about going to the office for the first time?
Nicole Perzigian: I didn't know if people were going to recognize me in-person! I lost some sleep the night before feeling those "first day" jitters. As I was driving to work, all of those doubts were running through my mind: 'What will it be like to talk to each other in-person? Do I know how to make conversation anymore?' When I work from home, I just talk to my dog all day. But it ended up being fine — you pick up right where you left off online, and people recognized me from video meetings.
How did the first day go?
I left my house early because I have a bit of a longer commute — about an hour — and I was worried about traffic. Once I got to the building, Zoom had employees directing us where to pick up our badge and find our floor, which was great. We don't have assigned desks, but we have suggested "neighborhoods" for each team to sit together.
We had a nice free breakfast and did a little champagne toast to kick off the re-opening with our business leaders, then I spent some time "slacking off" and chatting with the five members of team who came to the office, since this was the first time I was meeting them.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of meetings, which was a mix of remote, in-person and hybrid because I also work with folks in different parts of the country. For example: One of my direct reports and I had a our first in-person one on one, followed by a hybrid meeting with her and someone who was working remotely from Texas.
What surprised you the most?
I was surprised by how efficient Zoom's technology is in coordinating hybrid meetings — it was so easy to work with folks that are remote and in the office at the same time, and it made collaboration really seamless.
You couldn't even tell if people were in the office or at home, because the video features integrate you so well. The Zoom room smart gallery, for example, separates in-room participants into their own individual video tile, instead of the in-person group being together in one video, and we used the interactive whiteboard tool to share notes that everyone can see.
How often do you plan to be at the office?
I work well at home but I also love human interaction, so I'll be coming in once a week until the summer, when our internship program starts, and then I will increase my days in office to three times a week. Our interns will also have the flexibility to work on a hybrid schedule after their orientation, which is exciting. Zoom has made it possible for us to collaborate no matter where we work from — we can't just talk the talk with our products, we have to walk the walk.