Amid ongoing concerns around its potential negative impacts on society, and issues with how it can be used to spread hate, how it squeezes competition, and how controls the digital advertising market.
Despite all of these concerns, Facebook continues to grow, in new ways, and become more and further intertwined with our everyday interactive processes.
Yesterday, we reported on the rising sales of the company's Portal smart speaker device, and today, Facebook has provided an update on yet another of its offerings, with its Workplace platform reaching a new milestone of 7 million paying subscribers, up from 5 million a year ago.
Workplace has more than doubled its user count over the last 19 months, which is partly due to the pandemic, which has forced more organizations to offer work from home options. And partly, it's also due to the utility of the platform.
Workplace is essentially the Facebook UI that billions of people are familiar with, but re-aligned for your private network. That familiarity reduces training time, which lowers the barrier for entry, and has made Workplace a more viable option for internal collaboration and community.
Of course, there are concerns among some businesses around connecting their internal communications and activity up to Facebook's servers. But Workplace is totally separate from the public Facebook app - and clearly, a growing number of brands are growing more comfortable with the option, given the rising user count.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg labeled the updated user count an 'interesting milestone', while also reeling off a few of the big-name clients that are now using the tool:
"We built Workplace as an internal version of Facebook to run our own company, and it was so useful we started letting other organizations use it too, including everyone from Spotify to Starbucks to the World Health Organization. More companies are starting to use our virtual reality tools for work as well, and I'm excited to build more new ways for people to work together that weren't possible before."
Branching into VR is the next major step for Facebook's enterprise platform, and with its advanced VR work already, through the development of Oculus, it's likely ahead of the game in this respect, creating VR avatars and tools that will eventually enable people to feel as though they're working side-by-side, while logging in from anywhere.
Which, given the broader work from home shift, will become increasingly important in the post-pandemic environment.
We're not there yet, but with interest in Workplace rising, and VR hardware sales increasing, it's not difficult to imagine a time where people will be using those headsets for their work meet-ups and collaborations, as well as recreational activities.
In addition to its new usage milestone, Facebook has also announced a couple of new Workplace additions, as it continues to add to its product suite.
First off, Facebook's adding a new live Q&A experience, in order to better facilitate company-wide conversation, and align with the rising use of live video for meetings.
Facebook launched a Q&A post option for Workplace last April, which interestingly also includes an up and downvote process for post comments, in order to ensure the most popular queries are given priority.
This new variation is more aligned with live video meetings, as opposed to regular posts, with an updated display style and interactive features.
Facebook's also adding new self-expression and diversity and inclusion tools, including name pronunciation tools on profiles and an option to set the skin color of emojis.
Facebook's also expanding its integration tools, which will enable users to embed Workplace within other business apps, while you're also now able to import more file types to your Workplace Knowledge Library.
As per Facebook:
"We’ve recently launched a new functionality so you can pull content from other platforms into Knowledge Library, making migration and/or consolidation easier, so people can access your most important company content in one place."
These are small, but functional updates, and with more people than ever now utilizing the platform, it makes sense for Facebook to keep updating its tools, and tweaking its systems in line with demand.
As with Portal, it's interesting to see attitudes towards Facebook Workplace evolve over time.
When it was first launched, back in 2016, there were big concerns around connecting Facebook into your business, and providing Facebook with access to your internal company data. Facebook has worked hard to address these issues, and ensure privacy and security is paramount, and over time, as Workplace evolves without incident, more organizations are clearly now reconsidering their approach.
The option makes sense - and again, amid the rising WFH shift, you could save a lot of remote training time by implementing a system that people already know well.
So long as you feel comfortable with increasing your reliance on Facebook's tools, and Facebook's data protection processes. Given these considerations, it won't be for everyone, but clearly, more organizations are finding it to be a viable, valuable option.