Monday, 17 January 2022 11:30

Five Meta leaders share predictions for 2022 on metaverse, future of work and more

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Meta, the company that was previously known as Facebook, has shared predictions from five leaders across the Reality Labs, Portal, Workplace, People and Business Messaging teams, focusing on what's next, the metaverse and more!

I received these predictions from Meta's PR agency late last year, but in the midst of the festive season, preparing for my CES 2022 trip, ominous Omicron infections and more, I didn't get a chance to publish these until now.

That said, it's still great content, with these predictions focusing on what’s next for the future of work, and how the metaverse will bring consumers and employees closer together to change the way things are done in our personal and professional lives.

With Meta one of the biggest and most influential tech companies in the world, no matter what you do or don't think about Facebook and social media in general, the predictions are definitely worth reading and considering.

So, without further ado, besides the ad immediately below, please read on!

Prediction #1:

Brynn Harrington, VP of People Experience, Meta: 2022 will be a year of learning that will lay the groundwork for the next era of work:

After nearly two years of working from home, we’ve seen that good work can be done nearly anywhere, and people expect flexibility in how they work. But there is still so much we don’t know about what it takes to make remote and hybrid work successful because, until companies start returning to offices at scale, we are still ‘working from home during a pandemic.’

Over the next year, as we establish new routines, we will begin to understand the opportunities and challenges this new era of work will bring. Setting up a distributed workforce for success isn’t a quick change; the challenge is to design work in a way that is thoughtful and intentional, while also staying open to iteration.

At Meta, we’re focused on learning in several areas that we believe are key for what lies ahead - reducing friction in collaboration across distance, ensuring location isn’t an advantage in terms of participation or opportunity, striving for people to have work/life balance, and leveling individual choice with the health of teams and organisations.

Leaders across industries are likely looking at these same areas as well. But we are just beginning to scratch the surface. 2022 will be a crucial year of learning across companies and industries and we should be fiercely supporting people and teams as we experiment, iterate, evolve, and hopefully, we can work to build a future together that’s even brighter than the past.

Prediction #2:

Ryan Cairns, VP, Home and Work, Meta: Sophisticated home office technology is here to stay, so distributed teams can work smarter without sacrificing quality, even as some companies return to traditional office spaces:

According to a 2021 Gartner Hybrid Workplace survey, approximately 15 percent of employees want to return to an office full time.

With remote work becoming a long-term strategy, companies that don’t invest in catering to every work style — including working remotely — will fall behind. Physical distance shouldn’t limit our ability to connect with people. By investing in the right technology, distributed teams will benefit from feeling like they’re together in the same room without sacrificing tech quality or experience.

Companies need to continue investing in work technology and reimagine how devices are used — at home and in the office — to unlock opportunities for collaboration in the spaces where business gets done.

Prediction #3:

Ujjwal Singh, Head of Workplace, Meta: Frontline workers will be as important as the C-suite and their experiences will become a key competitive differentiator for companies:

The focus on employee experience has never been keener and equipping employees with the tech they need to do their jobs is a priority for many companies. This is especially important for frontline workers because, whether they’re doctors at a hospital or baristas at a coffee shop, they provide essential services for their customers — making these employees a vital part of companies that want to truly understand their customers’ needs and receive real-world, real-time feedback.

This is a priceless competitive differentiator for companies that often spend significant portions of their budgets on market research, and can use this frontline worker feedback loop to enhance and perfect their services. Yet, despite frontline workers playing such a critical — and strategic — role, many/some companies continue to ignore them, causing them to feel unappreciated, unheard, and disconnected.

We believe this is contributing to the so-called great resignation. In fact, according to the U.S. Labor Department, about 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, a record high in 2021. This indicates that companies that don’t invest in their frontline worker’s experience risk losing a large majority of their workforce, and now is the time to make that change before it is too late.

Companies that invest in their frontline workforce as much as they do in their leadership now will come out ahead in 2022.

Prediction #4:

Emile Litvak, VP of Business Messaging, Meta: Companies will increasingly shift customer service from phone and email support to messaging channels as a better way to get business done:

Over the past year and a half, you’ve undoubtedly had to call an airline to cancel a flight, a hotel to rebook a room, or the cable company to discuss your bill. And each call meant waiting endlessly on hold, getting transferred to multiple call agents and having to remember the name of your high school mascot three different times.

Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience. People don’t want to spend hours listening to elevator music or have their email to the support@ address go into the ether — they want to send a message and get a quick and personal response. While business messaging is already commonplace across Latin America, India, and Asia, many companies in the U.S. and EU are still using legacy channels that are ineffective, inconvenient, and impersonal.

Expect that to change in 2022 as companies realize messaging is what their customers want — and it’s beneficial to their bottom lines as well. Not only is messaging more convenient, easier, and more natural for people, but it also gives businesses the opportunity to foster stronger customer relationships and serve multiple customers efficiently.

This will only lead to increased customer satisfaction and call agent productivity — and in the year ahead, that’s just smart business.

Prediction #5:

Mark Rabkin, VP of VR, Meta: VR will become a more multi-functional tool making it easier for people to collaborate from afar, or simply get stuff done:

Remote work lets us work from nearly anywhere, but with that flexibility also comes new challenges. Some people struggle with feelings of isolation from co-workers, or difficulty focusing in distracting home environments.

That’s where VR has superpowers: It lets people feel like they’re really together so they can build vivid memories of sharing a space and conversation. Those conversations flow much more fluidly with all the important body language cues, and with audio that gives you a sense of direction when someone speaks. And without physical limitations, VR brings infinite space for displays, persistent whiteboards, and easily expandable rooms.

So whether it’s to brainstorm, work on a document, or just hang out and socialise with your team, VR will aid people’s ability to collaborate, communicate, and connect remotely. In 2022, VR devices will get even more comfortable for longer wear, offer advanced optics for increased text clarity, and will enable avatars to mirror your real expressions— so you can be yourself at work.

This is also the year VR will begin to connect more seamlessly with your existing workflows, including commonly used business tools, 2D services, and peripheral devices like keyboards. It will be inevitable that companies begin to normalise VR in addition to tools like laptops, tablets and phones.

It’s the best way to create a shared sense of space and connection among dispersed workforces.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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