Remember when it was a no-no to be caught on Facebook at work?
That has all changed in the past few years for a number of reasons, but perhaps none more than the advent of Workplace by Facebook.
Workplace is not the traditional News Feed that transformed Mark Zuckerberg’s project into a multi-billion-dollar company, nor is it the Messenger feature that allows individuals and businesses to connect.
Rather, Facebook has taken what was once its internal connectivity platform – originally named ‘Groups’ – and scaled it to become a serious player in the enterprise technology field.
It has grown the platform to now having over 2 million paying customers, including some big name Australian companies such as NAB, Bunnings and The Iconic.
Facebook’s head of Workplace APAC Luke McNeal describes it as a “SaaS [software as a service] start-up within a consumer tech company”.
It’s a product simultaneously defined by both its similarities to the main Facebook offering and also its stark differences.
Workplace is a “standalone platform” within the Facebook family of apps. No data is collected, there are no ads and customers have sole control over who accesses their data.
It is also a paid product, aside from its Workplace for Good free offering to non-profits.
But as different as it may appear on the surface, Workplace is without a doubt still a part of Facebook.
“I actually see the connection to Facebook as a competitive advantage,” said McNeal. “The reality is that being a homegrown product, we have been able to take advantage of all the innovation of products being shipped at an incredible rate.
“What we’re able to do is look at what’s being rolled out on consumer Facebook and what makes sense for the corporate use case.
“We take that and make it enterprise-grade for organisations to use.”
Connecting the business
Facebook AUNZ managing director Will Easton said the goal of Workplace is “to help build stronger connections between employees and increase collaboration”.
By connecting frontline staff in retail companies with corporate CEOs, employee culture becomes “democratised”, said Easton.
And this dates back to its days as Facebook’s internal product, which began as early as 2011.
“What we found was that this [Workplace] really helped to breakdown silos within Facebook,” said McNeal.
“With so much going on, the organisation was finding it really difficult to connect and understand when operating at the speed of Facebook.
“It allowed our teams to work better together and we thought, ‘if we’re solving this internally, there’s an opportunity to help other organisations.'”
No more emails?
One of the major corporate pain points Workplace looks to alleviate is the seemingly endless droves of emails many of us now start our days with.
“One of the challenges of email is you wake up in the morning and you’ve got 200 messages, all the same priority,” said McNeal.
“You don’t know what’s noise versus, versus something that’s important.”
Workplace limits emails by allowing for internal communication through the platform, helping free up time to deal with external matters.