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    Q&A: Workplace exec on employee productivity, app plans for 2021

    Facebook hopes to make it simpler to get work finished inside Workplace by way of new productiveness options — some natively constructed, others from third events — and different modifications it has in thoughts this yr for Workplace, its enterprise social community. The Workplace platform, which jettisoned its free tier final month, had grown to 5 million paid customers as of final May, together with a roster of enterprise prospects akin to Nestle and Walmart within the four-and-a-half years since its launch. Facebook Workplace
    Ujjwal Singh, head of product at Facebook Workplace.
    Like many SaaS-based collaboration software program distributors, Workplace noticed a big uptick in customers in 2020 as groups worldwide shifted to distant work in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many companies eyeing “hybrid” remote-work methods this yr, maintaining prospects related by way of the platform’s video and messaging instruments continues to be a precedence, in response to Ujjwal Singh, head of product at Workplace.With that in thoughts, Facebook right this moment unveiled updates to its video broadcast capabilities inside Live Producer, together with an upgraded Safety Check function – now rebranded as Safety Center.SIngh, in an interview, additionally talked up plans to construct on the productiveness capabilities inside Workplace, which now has round 50 third-party integrations with numerous enterprise functions. That quantity trails rival collaboration instruments akin to Slack and Microsoft Teams.Computerworld spoke to Signh final week about what Workplace prospects ought to anticipate within the coming months, with productiveness instruments and asynchronous communications additionally on the horizon. (This interview transcript has been edited for readability.)You’re increasing the makes use of for video inside Workplace, with the flexibility to extra simply add a number of hosts to a broadcast. What are the use circumstances right here for purchasers?  “Live Video is among the key standout options for Workplace and one that the majority of our prospects use fairly recurrently. One of the primary issues we have finished is add the flexibility to have multi-hosts. In a world the place most of us are distant, while you’re attempting to do a broadcast, do a city corridor, or do a Q&A, there are a lot of instances you wish to embrace another person in that. It may very well be a visitor speaker, it may very well be another person inside the firm that you simply wish to have a dialogue with — for instance, the CEO needs to usher in the CFO as a result of they’re speaking about how the quarter went. An exterior use case may be a related visitor speaker that’s an professional, akin to a neighborhood professional on the pandemic. Facebook Workplace
    Live Video will supply new choices so as to add a couple of host of movies.
    “It’s built very much to be secure. It’s still a company product, we don’t want the equivalent of random people finding a link on Twitter or wherever else and becoming guest speakers in a CEO call. So, security and making sure that it’s still a closed ecosystem [are vital]: not just anybody can join.“We’ve also added basic analytics. If the CEO goes live, the company wants to know how many people saw it, what did they react to, how long did they watch the video for.”Safety Check is a software that has been out there in each the Facebook’s client software and Workplace for a short time now. What enhancements ought to Workplace prospects anticipate as it’s rebranded as Security Center?“Safety Center is an evolution of Safety Check, which is something that’s used on the consumer side within Facebook but also within Workplace. For example, in 2019, Delta used Safety Check during the hurricane season to make sure staff were safe. We’ve used it [at Facebook] for the pandemic to share updates like office closures and local restrictions and how to contact for local support — that kind of thing.“The specific changes are really around UI. We focused on making Safety Center easier to use, easier to discover, easier to manage the comms before, during, and after an incident.“We’ve added different message types as well: travel advisories, safety alerts, different ways to interact with employees and for them to interact back with the company. It is more than just marking themselves as safe; not every incident is just ‘are you okay, yeah, great move on.’“It’s to address the different scenarios, not just the earthquake or the hurricane scenarios but more in line with the kinds of scenarios that we all have to deal with today.” Facebook Workplace
    Workplace’s Safety Center permits workers to report in throughout emergencies.
    Community constructing has been a key energy for Workplace, however how is the applying additionally used to get work finished? Should we anticipate to see extra give attention to productiveness going ahead?“This is part of our 2021 vision. Today, Workplace is a great place to come and talk about work and learn about work. But in 2021 we also want to make it a place where you can get work done.  “The simplest example is DocuSign. That integration means people do not have to leave Workplace to be able to sign documents, especially if they’re collaborative documents that multiple people need to sign off. Our platform enables that without email chains and all of those kinds of things.“That’s a fairly simple utilitarian example; what you’re going to see in 2021 is us leaning into examples like that, expanding on [the integration with] ServiceNow [for example], and with some of the other SaaS providers that people use to get work done. We’re also going to expand the types of integrations that we do, to make Workplace a place you can actually be productive while being collaborative. One broad way of thinking about it is it’s not single-player use cases that we’re focused on, its multi-player collaborative productivity that we’re going to lean into, because that’s our strength.”As effectively as third-party integrations, will Facebook be including productiveness performance natively inside Workplace?“Yes, the analogy I would use is our launch last year of Knowledge Library. It [provides] the ability to have the equivalent of a wiki to publish a note that’s long-lived; it’s doesn’t just live on a post. Instead of having to go to a separate tool to do the work there and then paste or post that in, Knowledge Library means you don’t need a separate wiki tool, there’s a wiki integrated inside of Workplace. That’s an example of us doing a native integration, versus just saying, ‘Hey, if you’re using this external tool, we integrate with that.’“We think that’s a really good example of what people want to naturally do as part of communicating within larger organizations. So there are other examples like that we’re looking at, that will get natively added inside Workplace.”What else ought to Workplace prospects anticipate to see in 2021?“Another area that we’re focused on in 2021 is leveraging ‘async’ [asynchronous communications] along with ‘sync’ communications.“There’s a very real video fatigue in the absence of actually physically being present with each other, so one of the areas that we’re going to explore is how to do that in a much more sustainable way. By leveraging async, whether that’s with video or audio, it’s that notion of how we make sure we still feel connected without having to be on display in front of a camera.“Async video is an example of what we think could be useful, but we think there’s other areas that are worth exploring around the feeling more connected and feeling like there’s presence, that we are we are together without having to stare at each other over a camera.”Hybrid distant working is a significant theme for companies this yr. How will Workplace assist bridge the hole between office-based and distant employees to beat a number of the challenges that may come up with these blended modes of working?“Our core mission is to build community at work and help maintain company culture. My view on this is that’s easier to do when everyone is in the one same office. As you get to a “mixed mode” world, the notion of constructing positive everyone seems to be on the identical web page and knowledgeable and seems like they’ll nonetheless have a voice on the firm, these are issues are simply extra necessary.“Some of our biggest customers today — independent of the pandemic — use Workplace for exactly those reasons across their split offices, because they have offices in multiple time zones or are spread geographically. We’ve seen that people are leaning more into our core features in Workplace, things like Live, things like async posting and having discussions, versus everything having to be sync. …Those are things that we’ve seen more people use and we think that will continue as more people become are remote.”

    Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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