Face Slack, Facebook Workplace wants to seduce blue-collar workers


Launched in 2016, Workplace, Facebook's social network dedicated to employees of companies, wants to differentiate itself from the competition by connecting between white-collar workers in offices and blue-collar workers in stores or in the field. The strategy is paying off – the platform "pro" now has three million paying subscribers, against two million in February, said Tuesday the technology giant.

This interface, like its counterparts created by Slack, Salesforce or Microsoft, allows employees of a company to communicate, exchange documents, work on a project, make conference calls or instant messaging. " Many companies, like us, connect white-collar workers. We want to go beyond that, we want software that connects all employees, even those who do not have email ", explains to AFP Julien Codorniou, Vice President of Workplace.

In Walmart or Vodafone, the professional network has added customers like Nestlé, Kering and BT, which employ tens of thousands of people. " Employees expect to find the same kind of experience, the same quality of communication within the company as they are used to as users of digital platforms. "said Béatrice Lazat, human resources director at Kering, at an annual event organized by Workplace for its clients. " We were very far from the account »she added, adding that 85 percent of the group's 35,000 employees have become active users of the network, and one-third connect to it daily.

Connect "without e-mails"

" Some brands organize unofficial competitions between stores, to find out who has sold the most. It's very healthy and it helps to involve people who are on the ground "she welcomes. Only downside: China. Facebook and all its applications are inaccessible. " It's still a bit of a problem, as we have more employees in stores in China than in the US "she admits. To get around this major obstacle, Workplace has found an alternative solution via WeChat, flagship platform of the Chinese giant Tencent.

The network is supposed to facilitate the communication of the direction towards the teams, between the employees, but also the returns of the people on the ground, including the "sans-emails" (in the stores, the restaurants, etc). The tools must notably make it possible to notice people likely to access management positions. " You can not do that with the intranet, only Workplace can do that ", insists Julien Codorniou in front of a meeting of acquired and potential customers in a hotel in Menlo Park, near the headquarters of the social network.

And on the innovation side?

" The big worry for us was suddenly giving a voice to 20,000 people who did not have one before ", told AFP Suzie Elliott, director of human resources at Farmers Insurance, a US group that adopted Workplace for all its employees in 2017. Some employees also expressed concerns, then, about the protection of their privacy and the tightness between the social network and the professional network. " This has been a big topic of debate. But we have explained that the two platforms are completely separate ", she recalls.

According to her, the mobile app has created the feeling of belonging to a community for all employees, especially those who spend a lot of time alone, to visit their customers. New options unveiled Tuesday give the opportunity to organize quick surveys or detailed in-house, or to publicly thank a colleague. As for technical innovations, Facebook has focused on video. Companies will be able to use Portal, its range of "smart" screens designed to make better video calls than via the computer or smartphone.

Artificial intelligence will also be integrated into the videos published on Workplace to automatically transcribe the subtitles. Finally, a so-called "peer-to-peer" delivery system, where only one person receives the signal and passes it on to colleagues, will reduce the bandwidth usage so that all employees of a café or a store can watch live video.

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