How Meta uses Meta’s workplace tools

A look at how Meta employees use virtual reality at work.

Horizon Workroom

Meta’s future of work team meets in Workrooms each week.

Image: Meta

Ever wondered how the companies behind your favorite tech use their own products? We’ve told you how Twitter uses Twitter, and how Spotify uses Spotify. We talked to Meta execs about how they use Meta’s workplace tools.

The idea of strapping on VR goggles and gathering with avatar co-workers is still, fundamentally, weird. At a Horizon Workrooms showcase for reporters back in August 2021, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth admitted that weirdness is a “problem that VR always had.” Meta’s vision of the metaverse, especially within the workplace, has been met with a good deal of skepticism. Why go through the effort of supplying employees with VR goggles when an old-fashioned video call does the trick?

“Obviously, it’s very emerging technology,” said Meta’s VP of People Brynn Harrington. “It’s not something we’re able to use in every meeting yet. But just using it has helped me get a sense of what virtual presence is going to look like in the future.”

Though the company unveiled Workrooms eight months ago, the tech is still in very early stages.

Meta’s future of work team meets in Workrooms each week; with Meta investing so much in VR as the future of the workplace, it would be odd not to. “It would be pretty disingenuous if we weren’t in Workrooms for that meeting,” Harrington said. The meeting consists of eight people, which is the ideal size for Workrooms right now, according to Harrington.

The Workrooms future of work meetings are held at a consistent time each week, as spontaneity doesn’t really work when it comes to VR. You have to make sure your Quest headset is charged and ready, and the laptop app is updated to the latest version. Harrington said people are starting to become more comfortable with sharing their screens and using whiteboards via Workrooms.

“This is really basic, but alignment and predictability around when this technology can be used gives people a heads-up and the planning time they need to make sure that they can work really productively,” Harrington said. She’s been surprised by a spontaneous Workroomified meeting before and doesn’t recommend it. If your headset isn’t charged or you don’t have one, you can join a meeting via video camera. It’s not the end of the world, but it feels more awkward.

Christine Trodella, formerly the head of Workplace from Meta, is now in charge of B2B sales at Meta’s Reality Labs research firm. Her job will be to market Meta’s automated and virtual reality tools to businesses, when those tools are ready for a full rollout. Meta is still very much in the dogfooding stage when it comes to Workrooms.

“The first [Workrooms meeting] I got into, we were all so giddy to be in it, I don’t think we even conducted our meeting,” Trodella said. “We were playing with all the bits and bobs and giggling and stuff.”

Meta employees (Metamates, I guess I should say) can sign up to test out the Quests and

Workrooms, whether they work remotely or in the office. As part of the program, they commit to two or three Workrooms meetings a week and provide regular feedback on the product. After Meta ships them a headset, they undergo a brief training program. “We’re encouraging full teams to collectively sign up for dogfooding,” Harrington said. “This doesn’t work effectively unless we’re all doing it.”

VR isn’t for everyone. Some people, especially women, experience motion “cyber” sickness. As an HR executive, Harrington is most focused on how to make the Workrooms experience as equitable as possible. One aspect is allowing people to accurately express their identities though avatar. Another is simply giving people the time and resources to learn.

Antonio Gomez, a software engineer in London, said his daily Workrooms meetings are incredibly immersive. Julie Cullinane, a B2B industry manager for Facebook in New York, pushed her team to switch over to Workrooms entirely. It was a way to quickly get up to speed with VR tech. She loves commenting on avatar outfits at the start of each meeting, as well as high-fiving each other.

Horizon Workrooms is only the latest and flashiest tool that Meta employees use to support their work. Workplace, Meta’s internal communication platform, is another essential part of the company toolkit. The tech world became intimately acquainted with Workplace in October 2021 when former employee Frances Haugen leaked a trove of documents that had been posted on the platform. Some screenshots showed remarkably frank comments from employees, expressing criticism and honest feedback about the company.

Honesty is the point, as Harrington uses Workplace to “get a pulse” on how people really feel about working at Meta. She uses Workplace groups like “Remote Social,” a space for full-time remote workers, to learn more about the challenges employees face at work. “If we announce a new product feature internally, the person who launched that product is actively engaging in that thread,” Harrington said.

This type of product feedback was on full display in the Facebook Papers, one example being Facebook's plan to introduce more private spaces within the app in March 2019. Former head of Facebook app Fidji Simo’s post prompted scores of comments, mostly positive but some negative feedback as well.

Like any central communication tool, Workplace brings together co-workers with similar interests. Mark Guth, a chef in Seattle, said he found fellow skiing, tennis and fried chicken enthusiasts. “Being a chef at a tech company can often feel isolating, but I get a lot of social mileage out of Workplace and I’m grateful for that,” Guth said.


Gensler: Bitcoin may be a commodity

The SEC has been vague about crypto. But Gensler said bitcoin is a commodity, “maybe.” It’s the clearest glimpse of his views on digital assets yet.

“Bitcoin — maybe that’s a commodity token. That has a big market value, but that goes over there,” Gensler said, referring to another regulator, the CFTC.

Photoillustration: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Protocol

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has long argued that many cryptocurrencies are subject to regulation as securities.

But he recently clarified that this view wouldn’t apply to the best-known cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.


What the economic downturn means for pay packages

The war for talent rages on, but dynamics are shifting back to the employers.

Compensation packages could start to look different as companies reshuffle the balance of cash and equity.

Illustration: Nuthawut Somsuk/Getty Images

The market is turning. Tech stocks are slumping — which is bad news for employees — and even industry powerhouses are slowing hiring and laying people off. Tech talent is still in high demand, but compensation packages could start to look different as companies recruit.

“It’s a little bit like whiplash,” compensation consultant Ashish Raina said of the downturn. Raina, who mainly works with startups that have 200 to 800 employees, previously worked as the director of Talent at Index Ventures and head of Compensation and Talent Analytics at Box. “I do think there’s going to be an interesting reckoning in terms of pay increases going forward, how that pay is delivered.”

Keep Reading Show less
Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.

How 'Zuck Bucks' saved the 2020 election — and fueled the Big Lie

The true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $419 million donation became the 2020 election’s most enduring conspiracy theory.

Mark Zuckerberg is smack in the center of one of the 2020 election’s multitudinous conspiracies.

Illustration: Mike McQuade; Photos: Getty Images

If Mark Zuckerberg could have imagined the worst possible outcome of his decision to insert himself into the 2020 election, it might have looked something like the scene that unfolded inside Mar-a-Lago on a steamy evening in early April.

There in a gilded ballroom-turned-theater, MAGA world icons including Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks and former president Donald Trump himself were gathered for the premiere of “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump.”

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.


From frenzy to fear: Trading apps grapple with anxious investors

After riding the stock-trading wave last year, trading apps like Robinhood have disenchanted customers and jittery investors.

Retail stock trading is still an attractive business, as shown by the news that crypto exchange FTX is dipping its toes in the market by letting some U.S. customers trade stocks.

Photo: Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For a brief moment, last year’s GameStop craze made buying and selling stocks cool, even exciting, for a new generation of young investors. Now, that frenzy has turned to fear.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev pointed to “a challenging macro environment” marked by rising prices and interest rates and a slumping market in a call with analysts explaining his company’s lackluster results. The downturn, he said, was something “most of our customers have never experienced in their lifetimes.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Latest Stories