Your hybrid meetings are terrible. Here’s how to make them better.

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: how to up your virtual meeting game, the future of hiring and turnover among Black tech workers.

—Amber Burton, reporter (twitter | email)

What’s your virtual EQ?

We’re two years into hybrid work and still learning hybrid work etiquette. And, let’s face it, our virtual manners are pretty rough. There’s no need to be embarrassed; we’ve all talked over our colleagues on a video call at this point, and many of Protocol’s editors probably won’t mind me telling you that we’re still working on healthy pauses to allow for all of our staff members to speak up in meetings (Observation: It takes about 10 seconds before the silence becomes awkward on a video call).

Truth-telling aside, we’re all still learning how to boost our “virtual EQ.” And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in reporting on the workplace, it’s that a little emotional intelligence goes a long way in the hybrid workplace.

Cisco’s EVP and general manager of Security and Collaboration, Jeetu Patel, spends much of his day thinking about virtual EQ as he helps businesses navigate the hybrid workplace via Webex’s various initiatives. He sat down with me (virtually) this week to share how we can all improve our video meeting etiquette as we enter our third year of remote and hybrid work.

Patel’s top tips for upping our virtual EQ in meetings:

  1. Make sure everyone has a seat at the virtual table and feels they’re able to participate in providing ideas at the right time in a meeting. Patel warns of making sure no one individually dominates 90% of the airwaves. “The more that virtual communication feels like conversation, rather than lectures, the better off we’ll be,” he said.
  2. Create a human connection rather than a transaction. That means allowing for more natural wandering and conversation in meetings as one would do if everyone were in a physical conference room. Also, leaving room for dialogue so that meetings don’t feel one-sided or transactional. “If you’ve been talking in a meeting for a while and no one else has been speaking, taking a pause and just asking them what they think from time to time is not a bad idea,” said Patel. “If you are a participant in a meeting that is not speaking, providing cues with your body language so that the person who is speaking understands if they’re relating to you or not is an equal responsibility.”
  3. Avoid multitasking in virtual meetings. On the subject of nonverbal cues, avoid just staring at the screen and responding to emails. “Multitasking tends to be a very common phenomenon that people have when they’re in virtual meetings. And it’s when you do multitasking at the expense of hearing what the other person is saying, and you’re not giving body language cues on video where it’s hard enough to communicate. I think that that causes degradation of quality of interaction,” he said.
  4. Show up early to meetings to engage with colleagues. Just because you’re no longer walking to a conference room doesn’t mean you can’t show up to a meeting early. That’s when some of the most engaging conversation happens. When else would you find out that your coworker’s son has just thrown up all over the back seat of the car on their way to school? This can create a different energy for meetings and promote a feeling of authenticity, which is known to boost both trust and connection.
  5. Virtual icebreakers: They’re no longer just for orientation. Patel suggests using the virtual tools now at your disposal to keep colleagues engaged during meetings. He’s personally a fan of polls during large meetings.
  6. Don’t stick to your agenda. Patel says don’t be afraid to stray during meetings.

Patel said the biggest thing to be aware of when it comes to virtual meeting etiquette is time zones. Many companies continue to struggle with this as workforces grow globally. He urges people to remember that not every meeting needs to be a synchronous interaction. He recently began recording five minute videos of what’s top of mind for him which he sends out to a large group of Cisco employees.

“It could be about work, it could be not about work, It could be something that I thought about that I wanted to share with the team, and I’ll just send it out to the entire group of 12,000 people and anyone who wants to comment can comment and interact,” he said. “You’ve now created a conversation about something without imposing on people’s time. You have to be efficient, because you have to do something in five minutes, not 25 minutes. That’s a classic example of things we can think about from a hygiene perspective.”

Video meeting etiquette lightning round

Patel agreed to do a lightning round of questions about his hottest takes on the virtual workplace. Here’s what he had to say:

Virtual happy hours or let everyone log off early? Virtual happy hour.

Walking meetings or staying at your desk? Both.

For hybrid meetings: everyone in a conference room when they’re in the office or dial in from their desks? Mix mode. That’s the future.

There’s a great online debate about sending Calendly invites. Are they intrusive or welcoming? Welcoming.

Favorite nonverbal cue in a video meeting? Thumbs up.

A 20 minute 1:1 catch-up call or 30 minutes? 20 minutes.

Future of hiring

Monster recently released its global Future of Work report, and while there aren’t too many surprises, the report predicts some of the biggest challenges employers will face in the next few years. There will likely be more difficulty finding skilled workers and employers will need to do more work to ensure employees have adequate work-life balance, according to Monster. In tech, 39% of those surveyed said they’re struggling with a skills gap and it’s hurting their hiring efforts. “While employers want to hire, their confidence in finding the right fit continues its downward trend for the third year in a row,” the report states. “Hiring managers and recruiters are anticipating stiff competition for sourcing new talent.”

Read the full story.


Whether you work on the top floor or the shop floor, Workplace celebrates who you are and what you can bring to your business. Discover the place where you can be more you.

Learn more

Pay, perks & benefits

The latest in pay, perks and benefits news in the workplace.

Last month, NYC passed a new law requiring companies to share salary ranges on job postings starting in May. Already, some business organizations, which include big tech companies in New York, have expressed distaste. The main argument: Providing salaries on all job postings would be a heavy lift and time intensive. All feelings aside, here’s a refresher on the best practices regarding pay transparency from Protocol’s Salary Series to better prepare your New York workforce for the forthcoming changes.

  • Offer your employees a pay calculator to ensure fair pay.
  • Remember, mistakes happen. Pay audits can catch your salary mishaps.
  • Last, keep in mind that geo-neutral pay is still one of the hottest benefits in tech and has attracted the attention of many in a competitive market.

Who’s leaving your company?

Turnover in the tech industry is far from rare. Tech workers are known to hop around from company to company in short periods of time. But recent data from Russell Reynolds Associates found that Black tech professionals in the U.S. are switching companies more frequently. They’re also feeling less connected to their employer. Here are the highlights from the survey of about 400 tech professionals:

  • Black tech workers were found to switch companies every 3.5 years on average in order to advance in their careers. In comparison, non-Black tech workers switched companies every 5.1 years on average.
  • Among tech workers who are earlier in their careers with 10 years or less of tech experience, Black employees spend considerably less time at an organization. Black tech workers’ tenure at a company is about two years, while non-Black tech workers stay at a company for about 4.5 years on average.
  • On average, a Black tech worker with 10 years or less of tech experience said they’ve worked at 4.8 companies. Non-Black tech workers with the same amount of experience report that they’ve worked at 2.7 companies on average.

More stories from us

The future of work might depend on this gig worker fight in Massachusetts.

Two separate groups of workers at Staten Island Amazon warehouses have filed petitions to unionize.

U.S. Labor Department says remote work in January increased to 15.4%, up from about 11% in December.

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

  • Ikea is recruiting tech workers with 3D-printed vegan meatballs. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • Our team has been debating the merits of what makes a good email signature. This one tops the list for me. It’s all about setting boundaries.
  • A great list of ideas for ending your workday and creating better boundaries — something a lot of us have struggled with in wfh life.
  • Turns out managing a hybrid team is hard. Here are some great tips for managing the tensions.


Whether you work on the top floor or the shop floor, Workplace celebrates who you are and what you can bring to your business. Discover the place where you can be more you.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Tuesday.

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