Protocol | Workplace

So you want to host a VR meeting. Here’s what you need to know.

Facebook's Horizon Workrooms have some workers dreaming of VR meetings.

Two businesspeople wearing VR goggles.

Experts say there's still a lot for corporate decision makers to consider before pushing their teams into an avatar-filled meeting room.

Photo: Westend61 via Getty Images

The launch of Facebook's Horizon Workrooms has some wondering if their next team meeting should be in VR. But experts say there's still a lot for corporate decision makers to consider before pushing their teams into an avatar-filled meeting room.

For one, there's the feasibility of asking employees to wear a VR headset while an executive spends an hour sharing a company's latest projections. Here's what you need to know about Facebook's new meeting product, and what to consider when deciding whether to introduce your team to VR meetings.

How Facebook Horizon works

VR, which was once reserved for video games and one-off immersive experiences, has officially made its way into the conference room. On Thursday, Facebook launched the open beta version of Horizon Workrooms — a VR workplace app for teams that can be downloaded via its Oculus technology.

Eager users can obtain the app by making a Workroom team account via Facebook's Workrooms site and sending their teammates invites to join. Facebook also prompts users to download and install the Horizon Workrooms app from the Oculus store using the headset.

Meetings allow for up to 16 attendees in the virtual room, although up to 50 can dial into the meeting without the Oculus 2 headset. Attendees who are not using the Oculus headset appear within the virtual meeting room as if they are on the video screen in the virtual room. A truly meta experience.

For people using the full virtual version of the app, Workrooms maps their computer keyboard and desk to situate them in the room. Participants are able to take notes on their computers and write on a virtual white board as well. Spatial audio also makes it sound like a real meeting room, right down to the fact that those sitting closer to you will sound louder than those sitting further away.

In order to keep people's data private (think important company numbers being written regularly on the virtual white board), Facebook said for the most part the software streams data via a peer-to-peer connection directly from the computer to the headset — meaning no one device sends or receives the data. In other cases, when this is not possible, the data is encrypted before going through a Facebook server.

What you will need

While the download of Facebook's new app is free, companies will need to purchase the Oculus Quest 2 equipment, which includes the physical headset for employees. A person has to have a Quest 2 to create an account and the same goes for anyone else who wants to join the meeting in VR. Other VR headsets will not work. Companies are also offered the option of purchasing Oculus for Business, which includes the VR equipment, software, warranty and two years of customer support. Purchasing the headsets and accessories for an employee via Oculus for Business currently costs $799 per person. Purchasing a Quest 2 without a business account starts at $299.

Participants should also keep in mind that users need a Facebook account to use the Oculus Quest 2. This could potentially pose a problem for employees who do not have a social media account or don't want to use their personal account for anything work related.

Some say corporate decision makers will also need to consider the possible liability agreements listed in Facebook's terms. Avi Bar-Zeev, the CTO of RealityPrime and a VR pioneer who has worked on virtual reality and augmented reality for Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others told Protocol he would encourage any employer purchasing VR equipment for teams to take a careful look at the liabilities they are incurring, as much of the responsibility falls on the company if anything goes wrong.

"There's all sorts of OSHA and other situations you have to think about when people use VR. There's plenty of videos that you can find on the web of people falling down, walking into walls, just getting hurt, even with Passthrough which is helping with some of those things," he told Protocol.

Is it practical?

The pros of utilizing VR in meetings are obvious to employers who are concerned about the transition from fully remote to hybrid work setups. Many leaders are thinking about how to bridge the gap between the employees who convene in the office and those who work from home. VR could eventually be a great equalizer — a way to get everyone into the same room without feeling the difference between someone sitting in a conference room and another dialing in remotely. But there are aspects to be wary of in terms of practicality, Bar-Zeev told Protocol. Mainly, the reality of frequently utilizing such technology.

The ergonomics of wearing a headset are far from ideal at this point. Bar-Zeev points to the nauseating experience some have had using VR headsets, an issue that has not fully been addressed yet by companies.

"So if you're expecting people to wear these for one to eight hours, can they? Can they actually comfortably wear these without getting sick?" he said. Other physical factors have also proved challenging for comfort while using the headsets.

"Some people have hair that just doesn't fit well for these things and it's just not comfortable for them to wear the device around too much, or it may mess with the way that they feel. So there's a lot of reasons why a lot of people might choose not to use it yet until new generations of hardware are fixing those ergonomic issues."

What are the options?

Horizon Workrooms are far from the only option on the market for companies wishing to consider VR meetings. Other popular applications include Spatial, AltspaceVR and Hubs by Mozilla. And who could forget Second Life, a virtual world application that has existed for almost two decades without the necessity of a headset.

Each offering has its own advantages. Spatial, for example, uses more life-like avatars based on an image of participants in order to feel more real. Bar-Zeev told Protocol that Mozilla's Hubs is the closest thing to the metaverse right now. It's also free.

The main difference between other offerings and Horizon Workrooms is that it encourages participants to use the headset. It also tracks a person's mouth and hands, enhancing the level of connection felt among attendees in meetings. The other systems on the market could easily be used on a laptop or a tablet. There are a number of people who are still using Second Life for meetings.

But the plethora of emerging VR for meetings is promising. "The upside of all this, though, is if we can make these tools let us communicate better than in real life, then we have a chance to create even more understanding than we would face-to-face. That's the future promise, but we're not there yet," said Bar-Zeev.

Protocol | Enterprise

How Cloudflare thinks it can become ‘the fourth major public cloud’

With its new low-cost R2 cloud storage service, Cloudflare is jumping into direct competition with the AWS service that launched the cloud computing revolution.

Cloudflare will not charge data-egress fees for customers using R2, taking direct aim at the fees AWS charges developers to move data out of its widely popular S3 storage service.

Photo: Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cloudflare is ready to launch a new cloud object storage service that promises to be cheaper than the established alternatives, a step the company believes will catapult it into direct competition with AWS and other cloud providers.

The service will be called R2 — "one less than S3," quipped Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince in an interview with Protocol ahead of Cloudflare's announcement Tuesday morning. Cloudflare will not charge data-egress fees for customers using R2, taking direct aim at the fees AWS charges developers to move data out of its widely popular S3 storage service.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is Protocol's enterprise editor, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire, and served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure.

The pandemic won't be over until the economy recovers. While cities, states and regions across the U.S. are grappling with new variants, shifting mask policies and other factors that directly impact businesses large and small, it is nevertheless time for brands and enterprises to jumpstart COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Data will undoubtedly be critical to such strategies, but there is one type of data in particular that is poised to yield greater impact than ever in the COVID-19 Recovery Era: location data.

Keep Reading Show less
Michele Morelli, Foursquare
As SVP of Marketing, Michele is responsible for overseeing the brand strategy, communications, and product and performance marketing of Foursquare’s apps and enterprise products. Prior to joining Foursquare, Michele held several senior leadership positions with wide-ranging responsibilities at AOL, Toluna, Citibank and Yahoo!.

VR pioneer The Void is plotting a comeback

Assets of the location-based VR startup have been acquired by a former investor, who plans a relaunch with key former team members.

The Void's New York outpost closed during the pandemic. Now, the company is planning a comeback under new ownership.

Photo: The Void

Location-based VR pioneer The Void may rise from the ashes next year: A former investor has acquired key assets of the defunct startup and is now looking to relaunch it with key team members, Protocol has learned. The company is said to be actively fundraising, and is getting ready to start hiring additional talent soon.

The Void's patents and trademarks were recently acquired by Hyper Reality Partners, a company headed by former OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel, who also used to be an investor in and board member of The Void. Hyper Reality Partners is actively fundraising for a relaunch of the VR startup, and is said to have raised as much as $20 million already, according to an industry insider.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Protocol | Workplace

A new McKinsey study shows that women do more emotional labor at work

The 2021 Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey found that women are far more likely than men to help their teams manage time and work-life balance and provide emotional support.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report.

Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

Over the last year, emotional support, time management skills and work-life balance have become drastically more important and difficult in the workplace — and women leaders were far more likely than men to step in and do that work for their teams, according to the latest iteration of McKinsey and's annual Women in the Workplace report.

Senior leaders who identify as women were 60% more likely to provide emotional support to their teams, 24% more likely to ensure their teams' workload is manageable and 26% more likely to help team members navigate work/life challenges, according to the report. In addition, about one in five women senior leaders spend a substantial amount of time on DEI work that is not central to their job, compared to less than one in 10 male senior leaders.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email:, where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Amazon needs New World’s launch to be a success

New World arrives Tuesday. Whether it flops could determine the future of Amazon Games.

New World launches on Tuesday, after four delays. It could be Amazon's first big hit.

Image: Amazon

Amazon's New World launches on Tuesday, marking the end of a long and bumpy road to release day for the company's most pivotal video game release to date. There's a lot riding on New World, a massively multiplayer online game in the vein of iconic successes like Blizzard's long-running World of Warcraft and Square Enix's immensely popular Final Fantasy XIV.

If the game succeeds, New World will mark a rare success for a technology company in the gaming space. With the exception of Microsoft, which entered the console game industry nearly two decades ago, tech firms have tried time and again to use their engineering talent and resources to crack the code behind making successful video games. Almost every attempt has failed, but Amazon is the closest to having a hit on its hands. If it flops, we could see Amazon's gaming ambitions go the way of Google's.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at
Latest Stories