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Protocol | Workplace

By Amber Burton and Megan Morrone
June 9, 2022

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: Meta is making waves at McDonald’s, people are seeking actual IRL work, and how employees are determining whether a company is LGBTQ+ friendly.

— Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

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Hamburger University, but on your phone


Today, Meta announced a new partnership with McDonald’s that will place its Workplace platform in the hands of restaurant employees across the globe. The communications tool will be used to connect workers across franchise locations to disseminate information, training and internal updates.

While the partnership is one of many Workplace for Meta has with companies, the sheer magnitude of the partnership with McDonald’s is enough to turn heads. The partnership will connect 1.9 million of the fast food chain’s front-line workers — a novel investment in deskless workers, who often experience a high amount of turnover.

Though attrition remains high in the hospitality and service industry, Meta sees its Workplace platform as being a major tool to help workers feel more connected so they might stick around longer. I spoke with Christine Trodella, head of Workplace from Meta, about how the partnership will roll out to McDonald’s restaurant crews and why (or why not) others might want to consider such a tool for deskless teams.

The partnership is more of a play for “belonging” than communication.

  • “As we started working with them on the deployment, they really saw it as a tool to start to engage and foster more community amongst their front-line employees. And in particular, they really wanted to foster a sense of belonging with the crew members, they wanted a place to amplify their corporate values, which are very important to them, and then also to empower the front line,” said Trodella.
  • “Typically front-line workers are disenfranchised, they don't feel connected … not only are you empowering them and giving them a tool that enables a two-way dialogue, but they're actually creating opportunities amongst themselves to create community and culture within their organizations,” she said.
  • There are often major disparities between perceptions of communication and transparency between leaders and workers. Meta’s 2021 “Deskless Not Voiceless” report surveying front-line workers found that while 99% of C-suite execs think front-line workers trust them, only 25% of workers said they completely trust their organization to communicate transparently about company news and updates.
  • In addition, the survey found 51% of front-line workers believe they are seen as less important than corporate counterparts, and only 55% feel connected to headquarters.

How it will work:

  • Employees will need to use their own phones to download the Workplace app; the platform looks and operates a lot like Facebook. This low barrier to entry is Workplace’s biggest selling point.
  • Employees don’t need a personal Facebook account to sign up for Workplace. They can log in with their work credentials or email addresses.
  • The platform is home to corporate communication, training videos (imagine learning how to make a Big Mac on Facebook) and restaurant updates. Employees are able to post and connect with other workers as well, creating two-way communication with their employers. It will also be a place for employee recognition.

Though the partnership is officially rolling out to all McDonald's workers today, it has already launched in 11 markets, including Spain, Australia and Portugal. Thus far, it has been used to crowdsource and vote on new uniforms for team members in Spain, to check in on people during the pandemic and to informally compare and share notes about the sales of a new chicken sandwich launched in restaurants across the globe.

Though in the early days of its launch, the partnership can be viewed as a case study for why you might or might not consider deploying such a tool to your deskless team.

  • McDonald's has seen a 34% reduction in the time it takes to get information to the front line, according to Trodella.
  • Just like on Facebook, users can mark themselves as safe in the event of an emergency or a national disaster.
  • Leaders will have to consider whether or not front-line workers want to set up a Workplace account on their personal device. There are some significant security risks to consider with BYOD (bring your own device) in the workplace, and the practice has been known to make it harder for troubleshooting IT issues. Workplace partners own and control their own data on the platform, while Workplace acts as the data processor using enterprise-grade security standards.
  • As with any social platform that allows public discourse, moderation can be a headache. Meta says businesses and HR departments are responsible for implementing their own policies around conversations. They also must agree to adhere to a code of conduct around abuse.
  • It’s also unclear at this point just how much time employees are spending on the platform, which could be a concern for leaders from a time management or productivity standpoint. Facebook currently tracks adoption of the platform on a weekly basis among McDonald’s front-line workers, but not usage time, said Trodella.

— Amber Burton, reporter (email | twitter)

Open URL

‘Ambitious people want to work IRL’


It’s not just Elon Musk demanding the end to remote work. Founders Fund partner Keith Rabois tweeted last month that he was “looking to fund IRL startups.” When Protocol followed up with him later, Rabois said not only was he not interested in funding remote-first startups, but he also wasn’t interested in hiring people who wouldn’t come into an office. “The ambitious people want to work IRL,” he said in a DM to Allison Levitsky. Meanwhile, Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said wanting to fund in-person startups was “equivalent to ‘looking to fund startups running Windows95.’”

Meet the VCs who are largely divided on whether success is easy in a startup that starts remote.


Hybrid work success looks different depending on who you ask. Your company is made up of a cast of players, each with a role critical to a competitive and thriving business, and with an eye on their North Star: employee happiness. How do you appease all those stakeholders?

Learn more

Today's tips & tools


Brie Wolfson, the person behind productivity zine The Kool-Aid Factory, has an arsenal of docs she uses instead of to-do lists. She has docs she uses every day, monthly, quarterly and annually. Here are some that seem particularly useful; you can check out her full list here.

  • Ongoing stack rank: This is Wolfson’s starting point, compiling all of her given tasks into one document. She orders the tasks by priority, specifies their status and is sure to include only concrete outputs.
  • “It’s only the weekend when” Post-It: Wolfson writes down three things she would be sad to go into the weekend without completing. She creates the Post-It on Monday and moves it around throughout the week.
  • Snag log: The tasks that bogged you down during the day. Writing them down provides an outlet and helps you switch around your work routine.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)

Pride at work


Despite recent layoffs, it’s still a job seeker’s market. And workers in the LGBTQ+ community are doing their due diligence marking which companies are truly inclusive and which change their logos to a rainbow in June and call it a day. Indeed asked 1,002 full-time professionals who identify as LGBTQ+ about how they decide whether or not a company is LGBTQ+ friendly before they accept job offers.

  • 71% checked the company’s social media (so maybe turning your logo into a rainbow flag does do something).
  • 61% spoke to employees (current and/or former).
  • 45% researched whether work benefits were inclusive.
  • 30% looked into statements made by company leaders to gauge inclusiveness.

Read the full report.

More stories from us


The best computer science schools aren’t the ones you’d think.

A $220 million round of series D funding will open up professional apprenticeship programs to more workers.

Slack programmed us to respond instantly to work messages. Now it’s trying to deprogram us.

Google, Uber, Amazon and other tech giants are pleading with the Department of Homeland Security to let the children of H1-B visa holders stay in the U.S. after they turn 21.

HoloLens chief Alex Kipman is “pursuing other opportunities” after Insider reported that several former and current employees reported his inappropriate behavior toward female employees.


Rightsizing, where each meeting space is outfitted for a specific purpose, is top of mind for facilities pros. Reconfiguring rooms to support new hybrid work schedules enables personalization and a safe return to the office. Understanding how employees will use spaces as they come back will be critical for success.

Learn more

Around the internet


A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

Show us your Slacks. According to unnamed sources, Twitter is fighting with the Jan. 6 committee over employee privacy. The committee is demanding workers’ Slack messages to find out how Twitter managed moderation on the day of the insurrection.

Tim Cook calls hybrid work the “mother of all experiments” and said virtual work experiences were "not inferior, just different."

What’s the most annoying thing kids do these days according to Over-30 Redditors (i.e., The Olds)? TL;DR: bad email etiquette.

Seems like we’re all traumatized by awkward interactions via shared Google Docs at work.

Americans are terrible at taking lunch breaks at work, and I know this is true because there is hummus on my keyboard as I type this.


Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Have a great day, see you Sunday.


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