Imagine having the opportunity to help transform the work life of over one billion people around the world. This is the mission of the Workplace team at Facebook. Born in Facebook London, Workplace is the company’s first enterprise offering. The goal of Workplace is to help companies and organizations of all sizes stay connected, collaborate seamlessly, and work more efficiently. Even more, Workplace is designed to extend beyond the office to connect frontline employees, such as local shopkeepers or baristas. Global non-profits—like Save the Children, United Way, and the World Wildlife Fund—also use Workplace to communicate, campaign, and take action more effectively.
The Workplace team gives a voice to the deskless workforce and is helping to revolutionize the way people work, but this is just the beginning of what the team believes is possible. Read on to get an inside look at what they’re working on in London, how they solve unique and interesting problems, and where there’s the greatest opportunity for innovation and impact.
A small team with a big mission
More than a billion people around the world make up today’s workforce. For many, work is where they spend 60 to 70% of their time. While there’s a massive opportunity to innovate, there’s an equally large opportunity to drive impact. At Facebook, we know how to build communities and establish connections. Now, the Workplace team is applying this same approach in the context of work.
The team’s mission to bring work communities together around the world might sound simple, but it’s a complex problem to solve. For the first time in 2019, five generations—from baby boomers to Generation Z—are working together. This incredibly diverse workforce also counts people across various locations, cultures, languages, devices, and networks. Building a set of tools that will touch one billion people is something that hasn’t been done before, and having a variety of perspectives is critical for getting it right.
Karandeep A., VP and Head of Workplace at Facebook, offers a great example of the team’s approach. “If the Starbucks CEO is doing a live broadcast in English, we ensure team members in Mexico who only speak Spanish are able to understand him and collaborate back with the headquarters. This is something we’ve been doing on the consumer side with celebrities and influencers, and we’re now bringing this to enterprise.”
“When I first joined the workforce, I used to look forward to going to the office because my PC at work was faster and more powerful than what I had at home,” Karandeep adds. “10 years into working, I realized that between my iPad, phone, and laptop, I had better products at home than I did at work. We call this shift the consumerization of IT, and we’re seeing an increasingly similar trend in software. People don’t want enterprise software pushed down to them to use. They want consumer grade experiences like WhatsApp, Messenger, Dropbox and Gmail, for getting their work done and collaborating with their colleagues. This is the opportunity for Workplace. More than two billion people around the world already know how to use Facebook’s tools. There’s no reason why companies can’t bring this same consumer-grade technology into the workforce in a private and secure way.”
A startup within a startup
Facebook is known for its bottom-up culture, and Workplace takes this concept to the next level. Rather than building communication and collaboration tools in the traditional enterprise way, the Workplace team is focused on developing something completely new. With the majority of the team—design, marketing, and sales, product, engineering, and business—based in London, Workplace functions like an end-to-end business. Team members often describe the experience as working at a startup within a startup. “Workplace is an incredible example of a product that wasn’t built at Facebook HQ,” Karandeep notes. “Workplace was incubated in London, and now, we’re committed to growing the team here. We have what we jokingly call the ‘VC backing’ of Facebook, while we get to run the business independently.”
Across Facebook and Workplace, teams are given full stack ownership over their products. As a result, team members are empowered to decide which problems they want to tackle and how they want to solve them. Managers work to quickly remove roadblocks, help people connect the dots, and ensure that teams have the resources they need to do their best work.
Having the Workplace team based out of London means there’s a lot of cross-functional work happening between teams, from design and data science to marketing and sales. The ability to collaborate face to face with team members across all parts of Workplace is a key part of the culture, and it contributes to its startup feel. What’s more is that beyond Workplace, there’s also an opportunity to work cross-functionally with other teams within Facebook. “One of the big value propositions for Workplace is bringing the Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Oculus experience to businesses, so we work a lot with those teams to understand how it can help inform our product,” Karandeep says. “We’re working on something that has never been done before, and being able to work cross-functionally with teams inside and outside of Workplace helps us to ensure we’re keeping a diverse and open perspective.”
A massive opportunity for growth
Workplace team members at Facebook London work alongside senior leaders in an environment that feels more like a high-growth enterprise startup within the company. Working side by side presents a valuable opportunity to learn new skills and collaborate with some of the most experienced people in the industry. “With the investment we have in growing the enterprise part of the business at Facebook, we’re doubling down on the new disciplines we need to build—from enterprise support and sales to applying machine learning and AR/VR superpowers for work productivity,” Karandeep says.
One of the biggest challenges for Workplace team members is applying skills that work on the consumer side to enterprise. Working on Workplace gives everyone—from those who are kick-starting their careers to senior talent—the chance to flex new muscles and diversify their experience. To be successful on the Workplace team, you must be passionate about building global products that impact people in meaningful ways. “My advice? When it comes to your career, think about your passion, and optimize for finding the set of people with whom you can pursue that passion. Don’t worry about titles, it’s your passion that will drive you to have the biggest impact in career and life,” Karandeep adds.
“If you’re looking to build a new business or want to innovate without a playbook and chart your own course, Workplace is the place to do it,” Karandeep says. “We’re exploring new ways of bringing consumer-grade innovation to enterprise SaaS that has the potential to transform the most important aspect of any company: people.”