It was shortly before 3pm on a Friday afternoon in March when an earthquake struck 29km beneath the sea off the east coast of Japan. The tsunami that traveled 10km into Tōhoku’s Iwate Prefecture reached over 40m at its highest point. The force it exerted was so powerful, it shifted the position of the earth on its axis.

In the aftermath of the devastation, which included meltdowns in three reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, people’s immediate reaction was to check on loved ones and search for information.

Many of them turned to Facebook to stay connected with those they cared about.

Inspired by their personal experiences, engineers at Facebook in Japan devised a simple message board for people to contact friends and family in crisis-hit areas. In 2014, the message board evolved into a fully fledged product.

Safety Check for Facebook was a simple and easy way to let friends and family know you’re safe in a crisis, and check on others in the affected area.

Accelerating crisis comms

Accelerating crisis comms

In the last four years, millions of people have used Safety Check on Facebook to provide peace of mind to loved ones in the most testing of circumstances.

And it shows no signs of slowing: in 2018 alone, the feature has been activated over 2,000 times. As Facebook CIO Atish Banerjea says: “It was important to bring this feature into Workplace.”

In fact, Safety Check is the number one feature request we’ve heard from customers.

In an emergency, speed matters. But we could see from our own experiences that the current tools for managing crisis response at scale are too slow and cumbersome for the modern work environment.

Even the best products on the market often rely on Excel spreadsheets or phone calls to try and understand where people are. What we could see for ourselves on Facebook was that for a system to be effective it needed to be fast, seamless, and secure.

That’s why today, we’re announcing Safety Check for Workplace to make it easier for organizations to find and help their people in a crisis.

That’s why today, we’re announcing Safety Check for Workplace to make it easier for organizations to find and help their people in a crisis.

“With Safety Check for Workplace, we enable companies to spread awareness about a crisis as it unfolds. We quickly connect the people who need help with the people who can provide help at your company.”

“With Safety Check for Workplace, we enable companies to spread awareness about a crisis as it unfolds. We quickly connect the people who need help with the people who can provide help at your company.”

– Christian Gallai, Product Manager, Safety Check for Workplace

With Safety Check, if a crisis arises, organizations can identify who may be affected, send multiple modes of notification, and monitor employee responses.

And because it’s been designed with mobile in mind, they can do it fast. As Kyle Walsh, Global Security Operations Manager at Facebook explains: “With Safety Check for Workplace, it takes hours if not minutes to complete a process that used to take days or even weeks.”

How does it work?

How does it work?

In a crisis, company leadership – through their Workplace administrator – will be able to activate Safety Check and send notifications to their work community to confirm who is safe and who needs help. There are three steps to the process.

Locate: It’s critical to identify who may be affected by a crisis. So we’ve built multiple ways for companies to import the data of employees they may want to reach.

These include membership of Workplace groups (for instance, a local FYI group in a city facing a crisis); location information contained in Workplace’s own Org Tool; or a traditional spreadsheet with a list of names.

Notify: Once you’ve identified the relevant people, you need different ways to get in touch with them. Our data shows that the most effective way to reach people is via a Workplace Chat Bot.

But because not every organization has this functionality, we’ve also provided out-of-the-box options including Workplace Chat notifications and automatic messages.

These appear at the top of the News Feed in Workplace alongside email and, eventually, SMS. All of these will be available on both desktop and mobile.

Iterate: What if you reach someone but they don’t respond? You have to be able to keep trying. That’s why we’ve built a real-time dashboard of employee statuses showing the history of attempts to contact someone.

Admins will also have the ability to view the employee’s contact details alongside information on their immediate manager and teammates.

Safety Check in action with Delta Air Lines

Safety Check in action with Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is a Safety Check for Workplace beta tester. They’ve already seen great value in deploying Safety Check globally as one of the ways they continue to care for their people, powered by Workplace.

Delta has used Safety Check to ensure the safety of their employees during recent crises like Hurricane Florence and the earthquake that hit Hokkaido, Japan.

They chose Safety Check because it was simple to use, reliable and met people where they were… on chat, Workplace and email from their mobile devices.

Turning companies into communities

Turning companies into communities

As Monica Adractas, Director of Customer Growth at Workplace, explains: “Our goal at Workplace is to help companies and organizations build meaningful communities in the work environment. Part of that is knowing where your employees are, and if they are okay. Are they safe in a moment of crisis?”

We hope that Safety Check will never be used. But we’re committed to making workplace communities more connected and resilient when they need each other most.

Safety Check for Workplace will be rolling out to customers over the coming months.

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