'Like a snow day' | Facebook outage DECIMATES world of work

Facebook outage DECIMATES world of work

Facebook’s global outage caused frustration for millions of social media users yesterday, but it also caused chaos for many workforces who relied on the firm’s technology to operate and communicate.

The social media behemoth, which also runs Instagram and WhatsApp (both of which were also stricken), experienced a server outage lasting nearly six hours, rendering its platforms unusable.

“To the huge community of people and businesses around the world who depend on us: we’re sorry. We’ve been working hard to restore access to our apps and services and are happy to report they are coming back online now,” Facebook tweeted.

In a later blog post, Facebook blamed faulty configuration changes on its routers as the cause of the blackout.

However, while many users around the world were irked by having to use alternative platforms such as Twitter, or even speak to another human being in person, Facebook’s temporary demise caused real headaches in the world of work.

As reported by the New York Times, Facebook employees “scrambled because their internal systems stopped functioning”.

The company’s global security team “was notified of a system outage affecting all Facebook internal systems and tools,” according to an internal memo sent to employees and shared with The New York Times. Those tools included security systems, an internal calendar and scheduling tools, the memo said.

Staff were also left struggling to make phone calls from work-issued mobile phones, and were unable to receive external emails too, it was reported.

“Some Facebook employees who had returned to working in the office were also unable to enter buildings and conference rooms because their digital badges stopped working” said the New York Times, adding: “Security engineers said they were hampered from assessing the outage because they could not get to server areas.”

Despite the tech woes wiping around £4.4billion off Facebook’s market value, some were able to jest about the situation. Adam Mosseri, Head of Facebook-owned Instagram, took to Twitter during the outage to reveal that it “feels like a snow day”.

But it wasn’t just inside Facebook that work ground to a halt. Companies across the world rely on Facebook platforms as an alternative to Slack, Zoom and Teams, leaving many unable to do their jobs or speak to remote colleagues.

Should HR be worried?

Facebook’s major disruption highlighted the increasing reliance on tech in the modern workplace – showcasing some of the impact one day-to-day operations that can occur because of said reliance.

In an ironic twist, following a year that has made technological comms invaluable, an overload of digital tools designed to boost efficiency could be hindering workers’ productivity.

That’s according to research from Personio, which found that over a third of employees (37%) report that there are too many different digital tools to use, and 36% state that working across different tools disrupts their productive flow.

The research – based on a survey of 500 HR decision makers and 2,002 workers across the UK and Ireland – also highlighted the extent to which COVID-19 and the increase in remote working has caused a surge in the use of digital tools in the HR function, particularly.

Since the onset of the pandemic, 44% of HR decision makers have seen an increase in the number of digital tools they use for people related tasks. On average, organisations report using 6 different tools for people-related tasks and insights alone – rising to 8 different tools in large businesses.

Amongst HR decision makers using multiple tools for people-related tasks and insights, a quarter (25%) recognise that this causes frustration amongst employees, and a further 24% observe that multiple tools slow down processes and cause unnecessary delays. Meanwhile 23% observe that this disrupts employees, interrupting their flow.

Furthermore, should Facebook experience similar issues in the future, the ramifications for businesses could be even more costly, given the firm’s recent announcement of a plan to “fundamentally transform the world of work” by rolling out Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality platform that the firm says will help reduce isolation for homeworkers, while still embracing the remote working model.

The tech works by allowing workers to attend video calls in a virtual reality environment. By integrating features such as head and hand tracking, Facebook says that Workrooms will allow for more social cues from body language, to create “a more natural and expressive social experience.”

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Comments (1)

  • Bettyann Paul
    Bettyann Paul
    Tue, 5 Oct 2021 1:40pm BST
    Wait until Facebook blocks your account for so far 32 days, and you are not able to contact any of your family, friends, and business colleague, just because you wanted to stop funeral plan adds from appearing every other post. There is no one to web chat with at Facebook, you send ID proving you are over 13 and still no help. You try everyone you can think of and still no account.
    I’ve had contacts think I have blocked them, other’s thought I had died and have contacted a third party to see when the funeral was, a few hours’ outage is nothing, when you fear that all your posts since 2000 will be lost forever if Facebook does not give you back your account.

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