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The key that opened the Facebook Files: Workplace from Facebook

Two workers video chat with colleagues

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter where we share the latest tips, tools and insights to help you stay informed about the modern tech office. Today: how much time is being spent in the office and the future of work.

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—Amber Burton, Reporter (twitter | email)


The Big Picture

What is Workplace from Facebook?

In the latest development of the Facebook Files saga, this week Frances Haugen came out as the whistleblower supporting the Wall Street Journal's investigation. And with her public reveal, she also disclosed how she came across the scores of documents highlighting Facebook's damning research: Workplace from Facebook.

Workplace from Facebook is essentially a social media network for businesses. The platform is almost five years old, and started as a way for Facebook employees to communicate with each other.

  • Christine Trodella, head of Americas at Workplace, said when she started ten years back, employees leaned on Facebook Messenger or Groups to communicate. Email felt too clunky; employees wanted real-time messaging to talk. Facebook took these existing tools and built them into a separate Workplace app.
  • The app allows for video chatting, instant messaging, group collaboration and knowledge sharing. Workplace has searchable "knowledge libraries," which store information relevant to specific teams or the company at large.
  • Companies across the globe, and of all different sizes, use Workplace. Some of its larger customers include Walmart and Starbucks. The service has over seven million paid users.
  • Workplace was also one of Facebook's platforms that all went offline Monday, making it difficult for those inside the company to do their jobs.

The platform pitches itself as a highly accessible, transparent workplace platform companies can adopt.

  • Trodella highlighted Workplace's mobile app, searchable knowledge libraries and language translation abilities.
  • It works similarly to Facebook, which Trodella said makes it easy for people to adopt.
  • The goal is to "democratize information" within a company, allowing employees at every level to find information and connect with other workers, Trodella said.

Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook's civic integrity team, gathered documents from Workplace before leaving the company.

  • Before resigning in April, Haugen scoured Facebook's internal Workplace, according to a profile from The Journal. She was on the hunt for examples where she thought Facebook failed to address harms it had created.
  • She expected not to find much. Instead, she found attorney-client-privilege documents and presentations for Mark Zuckerberg in easily accessible forums, as well as research notes.
  • Haugen told The Journal basically any of Facebook's 60,000 employees could have searched for the same documents.
  • As Haugen searched for and absorbed thousands of documents in the company, she waited to be found out, she told The Journal. She assumed Facebook tracked her search activity and found it suspicious.
  • "I don't hate Facebook," she wrote into the search bar on her last day logging into the platform. "I love Facebook. I want to save it."


—Lizzy Lawrence, Reporter (twitter | email)

Protocol Event

The Inside View with Bill McDermott


ServiceNow is quickly becoming one of enterprise technology's most well-known names. The company started by focusing on helping the IT department manage its workload, but is quickly expanding to other verticals and, on the way, becoming a deeper rival to other software giants like Salesforce.

We'll talk to CEO Bill McDermott to learn what's ahead for the company and how it plans to hit $15 billion in annual revenue.

RSVP here

A MESSAGE FROM ZOOM

Zoom — the communications platform that has become synonymous with streaming video calls — experienced an even greater increase in that same time period. In June 2020, close to 3 million consults took place through Zoom's 100 top EPIC integrations. With its simple, reliable interface that patients — and health care workers — already knew, Zoom became the go-to for health care offices everywhere.

Learn more

Work Spot

Do you need another productivity app?

Last week the Workplace Team heard a decent buzz on Twitter about a new app called Height that launched out of a private beta testing phase. The idea behind the app is that here in this hybrid workplace of ours we want to do our work, track our work and chat about our work all in one place. In other words, why use Trello and Asana and Slack and Dropbox when you can do everything in Height? While having one tool to rule them all sounds nice, most of us are already pretty set in our ways (and our productivity apps).


Read the full story.

Today's Tips & Tools

Did you think it was just you who was locked out of Facebook and Instagram yesterday? By now you've probably realized that the site was down for most of Monday. If you want to be the first to know when your favorite sites and productivity tools are really down, try these tools instead of wasting a lot of time sending Slacks or Tweets or messages on Discord to find out.

  • Downdetector or Down for Everyone or Just Me: Bookmark one or both of these tools and search for your failing tool, scroll to see popular sites that are currently ailing or participate in one of the lively discussions about whether and why sites are down. The sites compile this information from a variety of sources including Twitter and user-generated reports of outages.
  • Protocol's Enterprise Editor Tom Krazit says that the Down sites sometimes have false positives, so if he's worried about the status of a big tool he will go directly to the source and check the company's status page, usually by Googling.

By The Numbers

What work will look like in the next five years

Though data shows people are funneling back into offices, many predict the future of work will still lean toward remote setups. Freelance platform Upwork found in its "Future Workforce Report" that 40.7 million Americans are expected to hold permanently remote roles within the next five years and we will continue to see the reverberating effects in everything from who companies hire to changes in management practices. The report surveyed 1,000 hiring managers in the U.S. to find out their plans and expectations for the future of work. Here are some of the findings:

  • Upwork predicts that the number of fully remote and partially remote workers will increase over the next five years. Fully remote workers will consist of almost 28% of the workforce and over 20% of workers will be partially remote.
  • People reported that they have already seen long-term management changes in light of COVID-19 and more are expected in the future. According to the report, "67% of businesses reported that there were many more changes to long term management practices than in a normal year, excluding temporary adaptations to the pandemic."
  • Communications practices at work are also expected to change over the next several years. 60% of survey respondents said their organization is already making changes to the structure or cadence of team meetings. And over 50% said their companies were making changes to internal communications.
  • Tech companies are expected to utilize more freelance talent in the future. "The largest increase in freelancer demand has been in the Web, Mobile, and Software Development category," stated Upwork's report. 80% of the surveyed hiring managers said they have already increased their use of freelancers since the start of the pandemic.

Making Moves

  • Johnson Controls hired Marlon Sullivan as executive vice president and chief human resources officer. Prior, Sullivan was senior vice president for human resources at Delta Airlines.
  • Software company Reltio appointed Connie Puglia as its chief human resources officer. Most recently she was SVP and chief people officer at TiVo.
  • Skillsoft hired Kristi Hummel as its new chief people officer. Hummel was senior vice president of human resources at Dell Technologies prior to joining the edtech company.

A MESSAGE FROM ZOOM

Zoom for Healthcare was specifically designed to fit into a health care provider's workflow. With the right security and privacy tools, it helps health care customers enable a HIPAA-compliant program; allows them to meet with patients virtually; enables workflow within electronic health records (Zoom integrates into the EPIC system); and lets them meet, message and chat with colleagues.

Learn more

Around the Internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

  • What if burnout is less about overwork and more about the sense of betrayal we feel when work doesn't live up to our expectations?
  • Wildfires and COVID-19 have pushed up the demand again for air filters. Here's what you need to know when picking a filter for your cubicle or home office.
  • A look at how the empty offices in San Francisco affect the city's tax revenue.
  • Would you work in a "tiny office?" Think tiny homes, but for work.
  • And finally, this company hired a cat.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great week, see you Friday.

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