The world’s largest social network, and the platform on which most people post holiday photos and ill-judged Brexit jokes appears to have donned a suit and tie, dug out its best shoes and updated its ageing CV.
Yep, that’s right - Facebook now means business. Literally.
Workplace is Facebook’s take on a business communication platform (or, for those of us old enough to remember - the venerable intranet). It’s a bit like Slack, which has long attempted to be the default replacement for email. The problem with Slack, however, is that few people understand what its main function is and, as such, you’d be hard pushed to say it has become a ubiquitous tool.
Facebook is different, though. With over a billion active users, an enormous percentage of the population is familiar with the way it looks, operates and its central purpose. And, even if that purpose is to share amusing videos of cats, Facebook can at least claim to be a common fixture within popular culture and an intrinsic part of people’s lives.
So, what does this mean for Workplace? Good things, surely? If they’ve decided to turn their hand to the world of work by effectively copying and pasting the Facebook experience into the commercial realm, a pre-existing user base will clearly be lying in wait.
Not necessarily. Just like Slack, the reason for Workplace’s existence takes some explaining, and in this post we’re going to consider whether or not it could be of use to hotels.
Enough, already! What is Workplace?
Workplace is a mobile and web-based app built by the team at Facebook. Originally called ‘Facebook Work’, it has actually been in use for several years within the confines of Facebook’s own offices. A beta test was also undertaken last year, which may account for some of the big names taking pride of place on the official website, that include Oxfam, RBS and none other than Booking.com.
Workplace is a single place where colleagues can chat, share information, conduct video conferences, create groups for specific projects, run polls and post important company updates. It’s a pin board, intranet and communication platform, all rolled into one.
Here’s what the main news feed looks like:
Why could it replace my email inbox?
OK… it won’t. Sorry. Email continues to occupy an important role in the world of work and, despite its age, is one of the primary methods of communication guests tend to opt for.
Email won’t go anywhere for some time, but Workplace could help you reduce the amount of internal email.
The service includes built-in text-based and video chat and, if you’ve used Facebook for those purposes, you’ll know just how convenient they can be for asking quick questions or sharing something with a friend.
Hotels that adopt Workplace and encourage staff to use it for communicating with colleagues should see a reduction in the number of ‘reply all’ emails that make their way around the building. Because Workplace is instantly accessible on a smartphone, staff are far more likely to reach for that rather than their inbox when chatting digitally with their peers.
Is Workplace free?
No. At least, not after the initial three month trial.
Most independent hotels will fall into the pricing bracket for 1,000 active users or less, in which you’re asked to pay $3 per user, per month for the privilege of using Workplace. That’s about par for the course for such a tool.
What sets Workplace apart from Facebook?
So similar are the list of features (chat, groups, news feeds, events, etc), that you’d be forgiven for assuming that Facebook are pulling a bit of a fast one with Workplace, but that would be a little unfair.
It’s a devilishly simple distinction, but the difference between Workplace and Facebook lies in the fact that they don’t intrude upon one another. Workplace is for work, Facebook is for leisure - simple. The former doesn’t bother you with what Auntie Sally had for dinner last night and has zero advertising to get in the way of collaborating with colleagues.
They’re both essentially the same service, but minor differences (including custom domains for logging in - i.e. myhotel.facebook.com) appear to have successfully tuned Workplace for the role it intends to fulfil.
Is Workplace by Facebook right for my hotel?
This is a question only you can answer and one that will probably come to light once you’ve taken advantage of the free trial, but we think it’s worth a punt, if only to help reduce the amount of internal email.
Staff should feel comfortable using their own mobile device at work if it aids their productivity and ability to collaborate with colleagues, and the benefit Workplace has over its rivals is that it harnesses the power of a platform most people are familiar with. By putting it in place at your hotel, you’ll be staying ahead of the curve and demonstrating a desire to use new technology that delivers genuine benefits to the workforce.
Have you tried out Workplace in your hotel? If so, we’d love to know how you got on. Tell us your story in the comments section below!
Main image credit: Workplace by Facebook