Facebook plans to add new productivity features and several changes to its enterprise social network, Workplace, this year to help users get things done more efficiently.
Workplace, four years and six months after its launch, has 5 million paid users as of May, and Nestlé and Wal-Mart are representative customers. As with many SaaS collaboration software, users surged as remote work became popular due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Workplace product manager Wooji-Will Singh said this year, as several companies focus on hybrid teleworking strategies, connecting customers with Workplace’s video and instant messaging tools is a top priority.
To this end, Facebook announced an update of the broadcasting function in Live Producer on the 13th, and changed the name to’Safety Center’ by updating the Safety Check function.
In an interview, Singh also mentioned plans to enhance productivity functions within the workplace. Currently, there are about 50 third-party’integrations’ in the workplace, including various business applications. This number is insufficient compared to competitive collaboration tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Computerworld interviewed Singh last week to talk about what Workplace customers can expect in the months ahead. It includes productivity tools and strategies related to asynchronous communication.
Q. You are expanding the video function in the workplace. Now you can easily add multiple hosts to your broadcast, how can customers use them?
Live video is one of the core features of the Workplace, and is used regularly by most of its customers. One of the important features added this time is multi-hosts. People often want to include others when they broadcast to a remotely connected world, have town hall meetings, or are interviewed. It could be a guest speaker or an employee who wants to speak. For example, a CEO might want to invite a CFO to talk about quarterly earnings. Inviting guests, such as local experts on pandemic, is an example.
The multi-host function was built securely. It is still an enterprise product. It doesn’t mean that anyone on Twitter or anything else finds a link and intervenes on the CEO call. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a secure and closed environment.
Also, basic analysis functions were added. When a CEO broadcasts live, you’ll want to know how many people watch it, how they react, how long they watch it, and so on.
Q. Safety Check is a tool that has been available in both Facebook’s consumer applications and workplaces for a while. What improvements can workplace customers expect from the brand change to a safety center?
Safety Center is the evolution of safety check. It can be used by regular consumers of Facebook, but it is also used within the workplace. For example, in 2019 Delta used safety checks during the hurricane season to ensure employee safety. During the pandemic, Facebook shared news of office closures and regional blockades, as well as how to contact them for local support.
If it’s a special change, it has to do with the UI. The focus was on making the Safety Center easy to use, easy to discover, and manageable communication before, during, and after the accident.
Also, several message types were added. Travel information, safety alerts, and the multiple paths that employees and companies can interact with. It doesn’t just mark it as safe. Not all accidents are simple and harmless.
It is designed to cope with multiple scenarios. Going from scenarios like earthquakes and typhoons, it’s closer to the kind of scenario we all have to deal with today.
Q. Community building is a core strength of the workplace. But how is it used for work? Can you expect more in terms of productivity in the future?
It is one of our 2021 visions. Workplaces today are a great place to talk and learn about work. But in 2021, I want to make it a place where I can work.
The simplest example is Docusign. You no longer have to leave the workplace when signing papers. In particular, for collaborative documents, multiple people must log out. Our platform can do this without involving any kind of email chain-like thing.
This is a very simple and practical example. In 2021, there will be many examples of this, expanding integration with ServiceNow, and strengthening integration with other SaaS people use to do their jobs. In this way, we will expand the integration, making the workplace a truly productive and collaborative place. At the macro level, we will focus on multiple collaborative productivity, not single-person cases. Because this is our strength.
Q. In addition to third-party integration, will you add your own productivity features within the workplace?
Yes. For example, there is the Knowledge Library, which started last year. It’s a kind of wiki-like service that keeps memos for a long time. It is not a form of pasting or posting by working in another tool. It can be done within the workplace without the need for a separate tool.
Knowledge libraries are a useful feature when communicating in large organizations. There are other features we’re paying attention to, all of which will be added natively to the workplace.
Q. Is there anything else that Workplace customers can expect in 2021?
Another area we will focus on in 2021 is the use of’asynchronous communication’ along with’synchronous communication’.
There is a kind of’video fatigue’ in situations where face-to-face meetings are difficult. So, as part of a much more sustainable way of communication, we want to feel connected to each other even if we are not in front of the camera.
Asynchronous video is one of the things we find useful, but there are other areas that can make you feel more connected and engaged. Even if you don’t stare at each other through the camera, you feel like you’re together.
Q. Hybrid remote work is a hot topic this year. How will the workplace fill the gap between office workers and remote workers to overcome the challenges that may be associated with this hybrid work style?
Facebook’s core mission is to help build a community and maintain the company culture in the workplace. This is even easier if everyone is in the same office. But in a hybrid work environment, the concept of making everyone feel that they can move, receive information and speak out is even more important.
Currently, some of our biggest customers use the Workplace in multiple offices for the same reasons above, regardless of the pandemic. They have offices in various time zones and geographically separated. People got to know more of the key features within the workplace. Live, asynchronous postings and discussions. Everything doesn’t have to be synchronous. More people use it, and the more remote workers are, the more active it will be. email@example.com
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