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7 ways to make hybrid work really work

Meta’s VP of Reality Labs Home & Work details the ways in which their teams have adapted to hybrid work and strategies for success.

7 ways to make hybrid work really work
[Photos: The Coach Space/Pexels;

The pre-pandemic office was the underlying platform for how we connected at work. While there was an initial fear that the world wasn’t ready for remote work, that was quickly allayed, in large part because of the rapid advent of technology that helped teams stay productive.

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Still, despite the emergence of effective tools, we lost those serendipitous moments with colleagues, deep group collaboration, and being able to get quick answers from teammates who were a mere shoulder tap away. 

But now, offices are opening up again, and we’re faced with new challenges to make office work and remote work equitable. We need to ensure that one’s professional opportunity isn’t limited by geographic proximity to their office or team. The way we work today is different, so we need to adapt the technologies and tools we’ve always used for our “new normal.” Done right, they can help us build relationships and connections no matter where our desk is located. 

Adapting tools and tech for hybrid work

Almost everyone has been hampered by their at-home work set-up from not having a second screen in their home office, to missing the tools available in the office, to not having the time or space to focus. At Meta, we’ve been building work tools to keep employees connected, engaged, and informed for years. And it was these tools that enabled our own employees to be productive as we started working from home. 

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People need to feel included and that they have the same “screen space” as others regardless of whether they’re joining a video call remotely or from the office. These are some of the most important things we’ve learned and how we’ve adapted video meetings to make them more equitable and inclusive.

  1. Question the need to meet: Not every status update, brainstorm, or conversation calls for a meeting. Some work is better done asynchronously because it gives people more time to think and provide thoughtful feedback. Consider that dynamic before you put a request on people’s calendars. 
  2. Set your meeting up for success: At their core, good hybrid meetings are simply well-run meetings. We’ve found that holding effective and inclusive hybrid meetings requires a bit of pre-meeting prep and configuring meeting spaces so that everyone can be seen and heard. Start off by enabling equitable participation by doing things like sharing pre-reads or an agenda in advance. Then, conduct your meetings so the rules of engagement are clear — for example, holding questions until the end or using a “raise hand” tool. After the meeting, follow up by sending out a document with decisions made and action items for everyone, including those who may have missed the meeting. 
  3. One person, one box: Just like everyone else, we spent most of the pandemic doing all our meetings on video calls, with everyone represented by an individual box on screen. But with hybrid work, we don’t want those working remotely to feel left out, so we often have everyone, even if they’re together in a conference room, dial in through their laptop and use the conference room audio so everyone is on equal footing, regardless of location. 
  4. Zoom in your camera: No matter where you are, when you’re on a video call, optimize your physical setup by zooming in your camera so others on the call can really see you, especially if you are in a bigger conference room in the office. This lets people see the expressions and nonverbal cues that help you communicate more effectively. And don’t forget to mute when you aren’t speaking. 
  5. Designate a screen for video calls: We use Meta Portal video calling devices as a dedicated screen for meetings, but you could also devote an extra monitor for this purpose. It lets you focus on the call and connect with your colleagues, while also freeing up your laptop so that you can stay productive by taking notes or sharing a presentation. 
  6. Use productivity apps to connect your team: There are numerous business communication tools like Workplace from Meta and Microsoft Teams that keep everyone connected. These tools let teams easily create dedicated spaces to brainstorm, share information, document decisions, and build community. They also let you miss meetings without missing out on important information because it can be documented and archived for people to refer back to when needed. 
  7. Try new technology to shake it up: Meeting fatigue is real. The metaverse will be one of the “tools” that will help us work smarter and offer new ways to collaborate in both physical and virtual spaces. Today some of our meetings are held over VR in a “meeting room.” Even though everyone is represented by an avatar, it feels more like you are in the same room. And the simple change in technology brings new energy to the meeting.  

The experience we’ve all had during the pandemic changed the way companies are thinking about the future of work and the ways to connect, collaborate, and train employees. More seamless collaboration will make us more productive and efficient as we build for a future where we no longer need to worry about where colleagues are located and where we’ll feel connected to and present with our coworkers–even when we aren’t physically together. 


 Ryan Cairns is vice president, Reality Labs Home & Work for Meta.

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