Diving Into Facebook Workplace and Oculus for Business
In our previous post on the Oculus Quest 2 for Business we mentioned that device management for the headset utilizes a relatively new platform from Facebook called Workplace. In this post we take a closer look at Workplace as a whole and what it offers besides just VR device management so that you can determine if it’s worth trying out for your business.
What is Facebook Workplace?
With over 5 million users, Facebook Workplace is a rapidly growing communication platform that utilizes the interface of Facebook to allow your company to communicate through groups, instant messaging, and a news feed. Workplace is separate from your personal Facebook account and allows for greater connection between every member in an organization.
Groups: Similar to Facebook’s consumer model, groups is a collaborative page for teams or department members. Groups can be private or public where team members can post photos, videos, polls, and messages into that specific group to allow for interaction and feedback from your team. For example, a team member can easily post the meeting minutes for the rest of the group to see in a convenient space.
Messenger: Facebook’s instant messenger allows workers to quickly communicate with team members via text, face calls, or group calls. Messenger is great for instant communication and interaction between remote workers as well as cutting down your daily emails.
Profiles: Workplace enables employees within a business to create “LinkedIn” type profiles to be shared and viewed internally. Furthermore, employees can follow and interact with any of their co-worker’s profiles. When you follow a co-worker, you can instantly see their posts, updates, and profile, which allows you to get background information on the employee and how to best communicate with them. This opportunity may be beneficial, especially for large organizations that have struggled to connect while working remotely.
News Feed: News Feed gathers conversations from all of the groups you are in as well as any posts that were sent to all members of the business. With a News Feed, users can see any project update, company announcement, or last-minute changes.
Integration with Oculus for Business (VR): For companies looking to use VR headsets in the workplace for tasks like training and communication, Oculus has released the enterprise version of its Quest 2 headsets. Managing the deployment of business apps and updates for these headsets now uses the Workplace platform to streamline the overall experience.
Pros and Cons of Facebook Workplace
- Workplace has a useful search feature that allows you to quickly search a term in your news feed, groups, or instant messaging, and pick out specific information that you need.
- Workplace enables its users to post events with their location and time. Team Members can easily communicate if they will be attending the event and post any questions about the event.
- Workplace has been known to significantly reduce the number of emails sent on a daily basis.
- Many companies and members within an organization find it hard to trust Workplace with their internal proprietary communications as well as any confidential documents. In the early stages of Workplace, some of your data and postings from your personal account reappeared on your corporate account. Moreover, sending larger files and documents through the Messenger feature is a very cumbersome process.
- Much like feeds on LinkedIn and Facebook itself, News Feeds tend to become cluttered with information resulting in employees missing important updates and announcements.
- The learning curve for less tech-savvy employees that do not use Facebook can result in missed communications and longer onboarding times.
- Competition: Many companies are already comfortable using Zoom, Teams, Dropbox, and Slack. For employees at these companies learning yet another tool may be uncomfortable and cumbersome.
Case Study of Workplace:
National Australia Bank (NAB): With over 34,000 employees and changes to the leadership team, shifting from in-person work to remote working during the COVID-19 crisis was extremely time consuming and difficult for NAB. However, Workplace allowed for real-time updates and direct access to leadership allowing NAB to build a strong internal communications team and fostering a sense of connectivity within the organization. Today, NAB has over 85% of its employees on Workplace allowing for a flexible and connected workforce.
Sansan: Sansan is a fast-growing cloud-based contact management company in Japan; as such, they had a surplus of new employees making it hard to communicate and build rapport between employees. With the implementation of Workplace, employees were easily able to access new member’s profiles to learn more about their co-workers and how to best communicate with them. Overall, Workplace can scale with the growing business and create a feeling of connectivity between members in a quickly growing organization. Nowadays, Sansan has 750 active users with a significant reduction of emails to each of these employees.
What is Oculus for Business by Facebook?
Recently, we published an in-depth “What You Should Know” article on Facebook’s Enterprise Oculus product. To recap, Oculus is a virtual reality headset that is portable, adaptable, and immersive. Oculus for business enables employees to enter a virtual world where they can be put in immersive scenarios, attend virtual meetings, train, and practice real-life scenarios. From Farmers Insurance allowing employees to immerse themselves in thousands of real-life scenarios where they are not only trained faster but also learn how to better empathize and connect with their clients to ExxonMobil where operators are trained for high-risk tasks without any physical risk associated, Oculus has created a new method for software developers to create onboarding and training applications for new employees that is faster and even more effective than traditional methods. Additionally, some apps allow for virtual reality meetings where co-workers can more vividly interact with each other while working remotely. Oculus for Business is transforming how businesses look at their operations by opening the door to immersive training, communication, and other subjects that is accurate, efficient, and innovative.
Johnson&Johnson Institute: Throughout the world, there has been a lack of safe health care as there has been a limited supply of trained surgeons. Before Oculus, aspiring surgeons would have to spend days observing experienced surgeons just to be given an opportunity to practice. Johnson&Johnson’s main focus is to train surgeons and prepare them for real situations and experiences. With Oculus, Johnson&Johnson has been able to quickly train new surgeons with vivid and realistic scenarios and experiences – preparing a new generation of surgeons that have scored, on average, 233% higher than students that trained with passive learning tools. Furthermore, Oculus is extremely portable and adaptive as employees from around the world can join virtual meetings where they can sketch out ideas and plan events on virtual whiteboards. In fact, members can even high-five each other and offer physical pointers boosting team morale and rapport.
DHL Express: With around 5 million shipments and growing each week, DHL needs a platform that can quickly train new and old employees with extreme detail on the manufacturing process. New and old employees can join an immersive world where they can go through the learning and manufacturing process without the fear of messing up shipments and orders. Oculus has allowed DHL to boost productivity, accelerate training, and present immersive worlds to new employees allowing for the fastest possible onboarding time and scaled implementation.
Impact of Facebook’s Workplace & Oculus on other small businesses
With the acquisition of Oculus in March 2014, Facebook has been steadily establishing itself as the front runner in the virtual reality industry. Moreover, many economists and small virtual reality firms are concerned with the impact it will have on them and their market share. With an even market share in 2019 between Oculus, HTC, PlayStation, and Valve Index, a large corporation like Facebook can push each of these companies out of the VR world that has been extremely successful at solving global and business problems. However, there have been many concerns with having to log in through Facebook to access your virtual reality meetings and training sessions. While the Quest 2 for Business seems to follow many business data policies, some data will still be collected – especially if you enable hand tracking for gesture controls.
It begs the question, how will the rise of Facebook Workplace & Oculus affect consumer enterprise products, hardware, and small business?
In 2019, Oculus shipped about 705,000 units of the Quest which correlates to an approximate 35% market share. HTC, which is Oculus’s main competitor, has designed headsets specifically tailored to enterprises with about a 20% market share. With the release of the Quest 2, especially at its significantly reduced price (starting at $299), Oculus seems to be taking over the market very quickly. With this ramp in Oculus Quest production, many experts fear that the virtual reality industry could turn into the social media industry where companies like Facebook have monopolized the industry by acquiring any companies that appear to be emerging competitors. This will result in Facebook and Oculus controlling most of the industry and directly setting the costs of product development and VR headsets. In addition, Facebook owns Oculus as it can fund marketing operations and production. With such a large company backing Oculus (that has historically monopolized their industry), one can wonder not if but when they will drive competitors and small businesses out of the VR enterprise sector.
While Workplace allows for instant communication and connection with workers as well as an easy way to learn more about your co-workers (this can be extremely beneficial to new employees that are onboarding during the COVID-19 pandemic), it lacks the content system to truly learn, onboard, and communicate important information to employees. This is where the emergence of Oculus has allowed Facebook to have widespread control over the business communication and training industry. With Oculus, workers can replicate business and work situations, learn from their mistakes, and practice again. This allows organizations to easily onboard new employees and provide existing employees new ways to learn – Workplace simply cannot replicate this with their limited user interface, but Oculus from Facebook has solved these problems. I believe the one thing that is separating Facebook from emerging as one of the top business communications platforms is the idea that there have been many concerns with how Facebook has been handling user data and information whereas other communication platforms have a more secure and protected way of handling internal conversations and documents. If we see the development of Oculus moving to cover the process of training and onboarding (all weaknesses by Facebook Workplace) and an eventual shift to ensure protected conversations and documents, one can only wonder if the virtual reality landscape and business communications industry will soon be dominated solely by Facebook.
As mentioned throughout this article, you can visit our blog to learn more about the Oculus for Business program, a review of the Oculus, other enterprise VR headsets, and our opinions on the Virtual Reality space.