In the current crisis, millions more of us are working from home. But how can businesses keep everyone connected when they’re no longer in the office? This is when enterprise social network platforms such as Workplace and Yammer will really come into their own, helping to maintain communication, collaboration and connectivity when everyone is working apart. If you haven’t already got one in your organisation or your intranet has no social functionality, now’s the time….
Facebook Workplace is my personal favourite and I had the pleasure of using it again when leading internal comms for Comic Relief last year. It gets great adoption because it’s based on Facebook so people instinctively know how to use it – it’s familiar. (There is a potential downside of the similarity to Facebook though – some people hate Facebook or see it is somewhere to go occasionally which can mean it’s a struggle to get them to engage with it)
Workplace is based on Groups – you can set up ‘official’ Groups such as ‘Company news’ for your company newsfeed and ‘People News’ to introduce new starters etc. And anyone can set up a group and invite people to join. You can also have a private group for your team to share all the important and not so important stuff, invaluable at times like these when teams are widely dispersed.
My personal favourite feature though is the live video, just like Facebook live which you may have used or seen. You can just point and shoot your tablet or phone to broadcast your ‘Town Hall’ or Q&A session with your CEO, inviting instant feedback, questions etc. (Just make sure the light is good and get a tripod to keep your device still!) It makes it easy to connect your people with your leadership team and each other.
- Workplace delivers all the benefits you’d want and expect e.g. employee voice, collaboration, connectivity with leadership, reduction in email traffic
- It’s USP is ‘no training required’ due to the familiarity of the platform, which leads to better adoption, particularly by millennials
- Workplace Chat (based on Messenger) provides instant messaging
- It’s Microsoft friendly – Facebook themselves use Office 365
- It’s built for mobile first and is secure on personal phones as well as work phones
- The ability to live broadcast at no additional cost and interact with the audience is brilliant
- The pricing is good value with a monthly cost per person of $4 for the core version and it’s free to charities and education. There’s also a free basic version which is great for small businesses
- It’s got great analytics so you can measure engagement
- It’s not an ‘intranet killer’ – you still need a place where people can go and obtain content / forms etc. that’s standing still and easy to find and download.
Finally, it’s really easy to get up and running quickly on the platform so if you’re looking to get something in place at speed with everyone suddenly working from home, it’s a great choice.
Slack has also been mentioned a lot on LinkedIn a lot in the current environment. Here is my recent blog on the platform with my view on it as an internal communicator: https://internalcommsteam.co.uk/communication/slack-an-internal-communicators-view/
By ICT associate Verity Cash
Workplace continues to make waves in UK companies, with businesses big and small signing up to the platform because of it’s cost effective pricing structure and ease of installation.
The beauty of Workplace is the speed at which you can get started; with minimal support required from Facebook, a collaborative team of Comms, HR and IT can launch Workplace easily in six weeks. The intuitive nature of the platform means that the majority of your colleagues will have some level of understanding of Facebook and therefore need little or no training to get started.
Workplace have a fantastic resource of materials to support a launch including comms plans and checklists, posters and handouts even those infamous Facebook emojis ready to print out and stick around the building.
So far, so good, but here’s some additional things to consider for a successful Workplace launch;
1. Sense check your company culture
You’re probably launching Workplace to help build a more open and collaborative culture. It’s worth doing your homework with team leaders around the organisation to see how they will operate Workplace.
Workers in call centres, distribution centres or factories may have less access to your social network during office hours, and it may even be frowned upon to be seen on the internet. How will you support team leaders to create an adult to adult culture which allows them to check in to the Workplace platform as and when they need to?
2. Consider colleague mental health needs
You may find that colleagues or team leaders volunteer the information that they or a colleague is anxious or nervous about social media coming into the workplace. Or you may need to open up conversation on this topic to ensure colleagues with concerns can voice them, before the launch.
Can you incorporate social media thoughts into your mental health at work programme? Do you need to give mental health advisors specialist training?
3. Are there any ethical or moral objections from employees?
It’s likely you could come across a minority of employees who voice ethical or moral concerns to a Facebook product. As in life, some people actively choose not to sign up to Facebook personally to express a moralistic point of view.
This has the potential to be a highly sensitive issue and it’s advisable to tackle this early on with your leadership team to decide your company approach. Is it mandatory for employees to use Workplace? If not, where else will those employees be able to receive information and take part in conversation?
4. Train and guide your leadership team (no matter what they say)
Workplace is the ideal place to help up your leadership team’s visibility. Think of it as a virtual ‘floor walk’. Have an idea of what role you’d like your CEO to play on Workplace. How will your Finance Director communicate those milestone corporate moments? How can you unlock the passion of the Customer Services team via your Customer Services Director?
Be prescriptive for launch. Ensure your leaders’ profiles are complete, they have some content uploaded and they are assigned to their respective teams/departments. Keep checked in with them for the first month of launch to ensure they are able to see the benefits to their teams and for them to flag any concerns to you.
5. But, don’t be too prescriptive for everyone else
Set up everyone’s profiles before launch day, consider holding a photo day to enable people to get a profile photo they’re happy with, set up teams and social groups (perhaps you have some lunchtime clubs) and assign owners to get content up and running. And then stop.
As a communications professional, there’s a temptation to create endless content. Workplace works really well when everyone is involved, sets up their own groups and initiates their own chats. Try to sit back and watch to see which teams/individuals have embraced the channel and who needs a little more help. Then get ready to jump in with support – and maybe some content ideas too.
See our view on Workplace as a platform here