12 Practical tips for implementing Workplace by Facebook
Date posted: 8 April 2021 | Posted in: Communication
Digital communication platforms / enterprise social networks have come into their own in the pandemic as organisations have used them to keep people connected while they are apart.
Workplace by Facebook is one of the leading platforms and one which I’ve now been involved with a number of times when working with businesses. I used it as the comms hub when interim leading internal comms for Comic Relief in 2019 and last year I led the implementation of Workplace for my local NHS Trust in Bath. I’ve also recently completed an audit for Southern Water where the platform was in use.
It gets good adoption because it’s based on Facebook so people instinctively know how to use it – it’s familiar. It’s a great platform but here are aspects I recommend thinking about if you’re considering introducing it to your organisation or planning implementation:
Work in tandem with your IT team for a successful technical implementation
The technical implementation is critical for a successful launch. I’m no tecchie but the key tasks involve uploading everyone’s details into Workplace (so that on launch day you can invite them to activate their account), and whitelisting the domains used. The upload of details is usually done by synching with the company’s Active Directory and this being repeated daily to ensure that starters and leavers are actioned. But if your active directory isn’t mature you can do a manual upload.
Like any channel it needs proactive management
One organisation I worked with had launched Workplace but left it to run itself which meant that usage withered and became patchy and people didn’t see it as the company comms hub. While of course much of the content on Workplace is user-generated (one of its advantages) it still needs proactive management, not least to manage content in the ‘official’ Groups e.g. Company News. Like any online platform it needs moderating to ensure that inappropriate content is removed (in my experience not a major problem in practice)
Get key stakeholders e.g. your DPO on board
Don’t be surprised if your Data Protection Officer and / or IT Security Manager has concerns over Workplace. Workplace uses world class security standards and have great documentation to reassure on this issue. They can’t access your content or peoples’ details, only analytics on usage to help them improve the platform. The platform is used by major brands globally and as far as I’m aware no-one has had any major security breaches.
Out of date intranet? Consider Knowledge Library for static content
I know from my internal comms audits that poor, outdated intranets are still present in many organisations. While there are some great out of the box intranet platforms out there, it’s worth remembering a recent addition to Workplace is Knowledge Library, effectively a home for static content and resources e.. HR policies, Marketing templates. If you don’t have an intranet or your current one is out of date and you want a quick and easy solution, this is worth looking at and of course it means that your static content is in the same place as your conversations platform.
Tailor Workplace’s support materials for your warm-up and launch campaign
Workplace has a wealth of great, supporting materials that you can use for your warm-up comms and launch – but the sheer weight of it can be daunting, and if you are in the UK you may find some of it a bit ‘American’ for your audience. My advice is use their resources but tailor them for your organisation and your audience.
Getting Started Guide, especially notifications
While the beauty of Workplace is its familiarity to social network users, there are some key differences to regular Facebook and people will still need help to get started. I always use a Getting Started Guide which helps users get on board, complete their profiles and use it effectively. And a key step is setting up their notifications – the default notification settings can be a bit intrusive and result in people being turned off using the platform. So including how to manage this is really important.
Prepare for some anti-Facebook sentiment
When you launch the platform a minority of people won’t come on board because they don’t like Facebook, either through a bad experience as a Facebook user or because of concerns on security standards. In the launches I have managed I have only had a few conscientious objectors and have managed to reassure waverers.
If you have field-based staff, help them adopt on their mobiles
Workplace is built for mobile first – which means it’s just as good an experience on mobile as it is on desktop if not better. The challenge is to get employees who don’t sit at a desk to download the app, adopt and engage – that requires effective launch and embedding activities, including giving them lots of good reasons to engage through relevant content.
Consider relationship with Teams / Slack
Teams is everywhere! Lots of businesses have been adopting it over the last year and this has been accelerated by the pandemic and increased remote working. I’ve blogged previously on Slack (with very similar functionality to Teams) and its suitability as a comms hub. In my view platforms like Workplace are more fit for purpose. Slack themselves promote it as a place to get work done – and that’s really what Slack and Teams are best used for. If you already have Teams / Slack for team and project collaboration and are launching Workplace as your comms hub, there is some cross-over functionality so make sure it’s clear to users what each platform is for and how to use them.
Get your initial Groups right and make them official
This is really important. Typically there will be a significant number of groups set up by users in the first few weeks, so your key company groups need to stand out . I normally launch with around 10 official Groups including e.g. Company News, Workplace queries, Q&A, Job vacancies, People Updates, Leadership team, Diversity and inclusion and so on. You can make them ‘Official’ and also auto-join all colleagues to them by default to ensure they don’t miss important content and are encouraged to participate. These Groups will all need careful setting of permissions.
I recommend having a ‘Workplace Week’ campaign once or twice a year to embed usage and get colleagues who haven’t been active to re-engage. This can include running special live events, Q&A sessions and fun activities. Anything that gets people to like, comment and share!
‘Last week on Workplace’
It’s a great idea to push a brief weekly highlights email into everyone’s inbox, with links to key posts and conversations. This is great for users and has always got great feedback when I’ve used it, at a glance users can see key content from the last week and can click on the posts they may have missed that interest them.
With extensive experience of Workplace, I can help you implement the platform. If you’d like to discuss your plans, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org