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Facebook’s Workplace Takes A Big Step Forward By Adding Walmart As A Customer

The world’s largest retailer selected Workplace in part because it didn’t require a lot of training for staff.

Facebook’s Workplace Takes A Big Step Forward By Adding Walmart As A Customer
[Photo: Flickr user Walmart]

Today Facebook’s Workplace takes a giant step forward with the addition of a pretty high-profile customer: Walmart. The addition of the largest private employer in the world is a huge coup for Workplace, which launched less than a year ago. It’s also a big move for Walmart. Employees from the company’s corporate office to the store level will be using Facebook going forward to collaborate on projects and communicate with other associates.

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“We’re already on the journey of digital transformation here at Walmart and Workplace for us is further accelerating our pace with what we’ve already been doing,” says Dan Kneeshaw, senior director of Digital Strategy and Brand Engagement at Walmart. he says Workplace will join a group of other communication tools used by the company. “A lot of our associates are already using or are familiar with Facebook today, so it’s easy to use and has a very low training threshold.”

That low training threshold has helped bring a number of other companies to Workplace this year as well. Over the last 10 months, Facebook has added more than 14,000 companies to the product, ranging from small independent companies to larger ones like Starbucks, Delta, and Lyft. 80% of Starbucks store managers use the product every week.

Facebook declined to comment on how many individual users make up those companies using Workplace. However, as a point of contrast, Slack, which currently has a stronghold in the workplace chat space, reported in June that it has 5 million daily active users, 1.5 million of those paid.

Validation of the Vision

For Facebook, having a large company like Walmart decide to use the product is transformative.

“It is the validation of the vision we had when we started developing Workplace,” says Julien Codorniou, VP of Workplace by Facebook. He says that the goal of Workplace is to connect employees at companies at every level from the executives working at headquarters to low-level employees out in the field, something that he thinks is made a lot easier by the fact that a lot of the people working at those companies are Facebook users in their personal lives.

“If you know how to use Facebook and Messenger, you will know how to use Workplace,” says Codorniou “That’s important especially if you want to connect with millennials.” The argument being that millennial workers, in particular, will be drawn to working with Facebook over using some other communication tool that might have been used by their parents.

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And it’s working. Walmart has been test-driving some of Workplace’s features and has come up with a few interesting uses.

“Our leaders at Walmart are using a lot of features like Live to connect directly with associates, they’re using it as part of All Hands or Town Hall meetings to basically bring that visual engagement element to associates that might not be there, says Kneeshaw. “We’re also using it to connect associates with our company news, and share photos, updates on store visits, or club visits.”

The product can come particularly in handy for roles that are visual in nature.

“Sam’s Club associates are using Workplace really to share best practice for in-store product displays, they’re sharing photos of things like grocery aisle setups and how to maximize space within that area, they also set up some different creative displays for other products around seasonal items, so it’s been a really nice tool for people to demonstrate things in a visual way,” Kneeshaw says. Facebook also came in particularly handy during this summer’s hurricane season.

Help in Hurricanes

“We were able to very quickly spin up a group for our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) ahead of Hurricane Harvey and we were able to use that to connect the EOC with the rest of our organization,” says Kneeshaw.

Walmart organized a lot of those efforts, in the same way you or I might do it using regular old Facebook, which made it easy for those in the field to understand.

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“We were able to use the Live capability to share our current weather updates and what was happening with people that were in the field from our Emergency Operation Center. We also were using it to gather kind of information about what was happening on the ground very quickly. Part of that was because of the ease of use with the mobile experience.”

And they weren’t the only company to use Workplace after the hurricane. Delta, for instance, used Facebook to help check in with its employees using a new feature called Safety Officer, a variation of Facebook’s Safety Check feature.

“Essentially what happened was on that Friday [after Hurricane Harvey], Delta reached out to us and said we need to get in touch with our employees that are in affected areas,” says Pablo Pollard, head of Growth for Workplace by Facebook in North America. “That next morning, Saturday, they had deployed Safety Officer through Service Rocket, which essentially allowed Delta to check in with their employees and see if they were safe or not safe. It’s really exciting and an interesting use case.”

Despite how successful its implementation has been so far, Workplace isn’t a total solution for Walmart just yet.

“At this point, as with all technology, we’re rolling it out in phases across our enterprise. Right now we are focused on parts of the business that we think will benefit most from Workplace right now. We do hope to eventually expand it to other parts of the business,” Kneeshaw says. “We’re rolling it in phases so we’re learning as we go and trying to use it where we think we’re going to have the most effect.”

About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.

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