Workplace by Facebook, which now has five million paying users, has seen several new features recently: the launch of “Workplace Rooms”, an update to live videos, and connection compatibility with Oculus Business, as well as Portal devices.
Use of the Workplace platform is increasing, and already had three million paying users in October 2019. Its adoption has accelerated in the context of widespread telework following the Covid-19 pandemic. The resulting videoconference boom also accelerated the deployment of “Workplace Rooms” and the improvement of live videos.
According to Julien Codorniou, vice-president of Workplace by Facebook, remote working will continue to exist when economies reopen, with the emergence of a new work standard. “We were forced to look at the roadmap for the post-Covid-19 workplace,” he explains, adding that some large customers have seen their adoption exceed 80% while remote work was becoming the norm.
Clockwise from left: Workplace reaches five million paying users, updates live video tools and deploys Workplace Rooms
Among the updates:
- Workplace Rooms is built on Facebook Rooms, but with security and identification tools for companies. Workplace Rooms, which can accommodate up to 50 people, can host video calls on a desktop computer, a mobile phone or the Workplace application on Portal.
- Workplace Live Video benefits from improvements in production value, control and interactivity, as well as support for six languages.
- The Workplace on Portal app can use Rooms as well as Workplace Live.
- Facebook Work Groups now has 20 million active monthly users.
- Oculus Business is generally available and accessible with Workplace.
While Workplace’s video enhancements are designed to compete with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, some of the updates in Workplace are driven by what the company sees as the future of collaboration and remote work. For example, Workplace and Oculus Business will be increasingly integrated in the future. Maria Fernandez Guajardo, director of Enterprise AR / VR for Facebook, says that augmented reality and virtual reality play a more important role in collaboration between companies.
“The vision we had before the pandemic was that virtual reality may have arrived three years too early. But today the world is different, ”adds Maria Fernandez Guajardo, who points out that the role of virtual reality during the pandemic has not been so important due to the lack of equipment for users on the market. “The previous deployment model provided that employees go to a room, use headsets for training and leave,” she explains. “It doesn’t work anymore, so it’s a question of sending the headsets home and building applications. “
In other words, Facebook is betting that the integration of Workplace and Oculus Business will lead to a “virtuous cycle”, companies seeking to improve collaboration from any office. Indeed, many technical managers have noticed that collaboration and mixed reality applications will evolve and, in some cases, blend into one another. Dell Technologies technical director John Roese noted that technology is starting to take into account different work contexts. Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, also points out that improvements in mixed reality and video conferencing have a role to play. And Leah Belsky, CEO of Coursera, believes that augmented reality could become a basic tool for online education.