For many of us, the way we work will be changed for good as a result of COVID-19.

Remote working has become the new norm today. With most of us staying, working and learning at home, the use of social media platforms such as Facebook has increased significantly too as people try to stay connected with their family, friends and even colleagues.

Many businesses – large and small – have also gone digital to tap on this growing pool of digital consumers, collaborate with colleagues, and engage with business partners and customers.

To help businesses enable a remote workforce, Facebook recently announced a series of product and business updates — spanning Facebook, Workplace, Portal and Oculus.

DigiconAsia caught up with Julien Codorniou, VP, Workplace at Facebook to find out more about the company’s vision for the future of work, as well as how social media platforms can help companies empower and enhance flexibility for employees.

Various surveys across Asia have shown that many employees prefer working from home even after social distancing measures are eased. What can employers do to empower the remote workforce, and to enhance employee experience?

Codorniou: Employers can empower their remote workforce by providing seamless and secure access to the right platforms and tools that allow them to get their work done, and feel virtually connected with colleagues, participating equally no matter where they are.

The pandemic has forced many organizations to accelerate their digital transformation and work in new ways – we want to ensure the products we’re using internally can help companies and employers everywhere to continue on this journey and be more flexible and connected than ever before.

We have received many requests from companies that they needed to connect several thousand employees to the system overnight as a response to more countries announcing lockdown measures in the past months. One of the biggest asks has been around finding new ways for colleagues and teams to stay connected, hangout and get things done when they cannot be together in person. This was one of the drivers behind our development of Workplace Rooms by Facebook. It provides an easy way to host both planned and spontaneous video calls from your desktop or mobile, adding on to the ease of use and accessibility. Since Workplace is based on Facebook and many employees are already familiar with the social platform, companies can roll out the tool to their teams rapidly and we can also onboard millions of new users easily and quickly.

How could organizations ensure effective and productive remote communications and collaboration, as well as protect users and data from cyberthreats in the face of the potentially much larger attack surface afforded to cybercriminal opportunists as a result of remote working?

Codorniou: For starters, organizations should align with their employees internally on the preferred online modes of communication which have been verified by their IT teams and encourage them to collaborate on the same medium. This can also help teams streamline communications and foster productive collaborations.

Choosing the right technology platform is also critical, as it should ideally be a platform that balances ease-of-use with robust security. Choosing a platform that isn’t as easy to adopt will increase the chances of employees using unauthorized and potentially compromised solutions as a work-around.

Secondly, organizations should educate and strongly encourage best practices in the use of these tools. We know it’s important for people to have control over who they’re communicating with, so we built Rooms with privacy in mind and designed controls to let people manage their experience. Suspicious users will be restricted and suspicious Rooms will be tracked by logging call bounce rate and other integrity metrics.

What role does social media play in this ‘new normal’ workplace experience?

Codorniou: Social media has already changed the way people connect and interact with not just their loved ones, but with their wider communities. As remote working becomes the norm, many organizations are shifting their communications channel to emulate some of the best features of social media to continue to engage with employees, customers and partners.

For example, not all collaborative efforts are linear conversations, and Workplace allows for a “new” way of working that many employees already understand instinctively from how they interact on their own personal social media platforms. We know this idea is gaining traction when we saw a significant increase in Workplace usage as our paid user base rose from three million in October 2019 to over five million at the end of Q1 2020.

At Facebook, we believe that the future of work is one where people can work closely together no matter where they are, and with the current pandemic, this idea seems more imperative than ever. Video has a critical role to play in making this a reality and ensuring our physical location does not limit our opportunities, and Workplace Rooms is one way that is helping people connect with their colleagues securely in both planned and spontaneous ways.

How is Facebook positioning Workplace to meet the needs and demands for better user experience, productivity and security in the workplace of the future?

Codorniou: Workplace is uniquely positioned to support companies who are needing to adapt to remote work environments, especially if they’re doing it for the first time. We have years of experience connecting frontline workers and now, more than ever, we know it is imperative for companies to utilize the best technology to minimize friction and close communication gaps.

For example, we see Workplace Rooms as not just a tool for the pandemic, but as a way for companies to feel connected even when they are physically apart. It’s a tool we believe will be helpful for the many organizations right now in lockdown, but also as many companies return to normal and others embrace new models and ways of working.

We are excited to bring this tool to the market and that Workplace now offers opportunities for colleagues to share static and dynamic content, alongside video calling through Workplace Rooms and Live video, and these in turn add on to the user experience and productivity for organizations and employees utilizing the tool.

Workplace Rooms also benefits from all the security infrastructure used to protect Workplace customers. It adheres to our strict security standards and provides organizations with the admin controls they need to keep their data safe. These include the ability for the call creator to remove unwanted participants and lock the room, as well as the ability for admins to prevent guests from joining for their entire instance. A completely new link is generated every time you create a Room in Workplace and invite links cannot be used again once they have expired.