Workplace, Facebook’s newest enterprise product, is a promising tool for the marketing communications industry. Workplace fosters cross-border working and employee engagement resulting in the best
end-product for clients. Here Ketchum's Melissa Barry gives the full low down.
- All about Facebook’s newest enterprise product, Workplace
- The benefits of implementing Workplace at a large, global marketing communications agency
- The adoption process and challenges of introducing a new agency-wide, global platform
Workplace by Facebook has the ability to fundamentally change the way that organisations work. Workplace is Facebook’s enterprise product where employees can connect, communicate, and collaborate in a secure space. Having launched at the end of 2016, there are currently over 14,000 companies using the platform across a variety of industries throughout the globe.
One of the best things about Workplace is that it is familiar and easy to use. For marketing and communications professionals who are often active on this social network in their personal lives, there is no training required.
Workplace has many similar features to Facebook such as a News Feed, messages, and most importantly, groups. It looks great on your desktop or on your mobile device. I like to describe Workplace as being very similar to your personal account, but with fewer political rants and cat memes.
The News Feed acts as a “smart inbox” and will bring trending conversations or posts from senior leadership to the top. Messages act like an instant messages and allow you to immediately reach your colleagues. Groups are the essential feature and the main way employees communicate on the platform; you can have a group for a specific team or project (e.g. – Corporate Team), a social employee group (e.g. – Ketchum Book Club) or even an all-company group to reach your entire organisation.
Workplace Fosters a Borderless Agency
Workplace allows a company to work in a borderless fashion connecting employees from San Francisco to Stuttgart to Singapore. With many office and team groups being open for anyone to join, transparency is increased throughout the agency. Employees can join groups or can simply take a glance into the open groups to see what going on with a specific office or team.
Cross-geography groups allow employees to knowledge share and provide updates at a much faster pace. Recently, an employee from Chicago had asked if anyone had experience with a specific automotive brand. Within hours, she received case studies from automotive experts from around the globe, she learned about specifics from individuals who have direct previous experience with this client, and she was able to learn about competitors doing work in this space.
Without this platform, this would have taken several days and many emails. Important to note, with this platform, the counsel was elevated for the client. This person never would have known to tap many of the individuals who offered their expertise as she did not personally know them as we are such a large agency. The platform helped to create a much stronger result.
Distance Bias: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?
Workplace helps to foster a borderless agency by decreasing distance bias which is defined as the tendency to favour people who are physically closer to us and to even think that somebody further away from us provides less value.
As someone who works on a global team with members in New York, London, and Düsseldorf, and with many of us often traveling, I can personally attest that this platform has reduced distance bias. We are constantly connected through Workplace sharing daily updates ranging from where we will be that day, real-time learnings, and of course fun, social sorts of things such as what we are eating on an international business trip. Also, Workplace has a video chat capability. Actually seeing each other and easily connecting via video has helped to alleviate distance bias.
Workplace has brought us together and made us a true part of each other’s daily lives that would not have been possible in any other way. Our work has been enhanced due to our stronger connection.
According to Mindshare and Dynamic Signal, 74% of employees feel like they are missing out on company information and news. Engagement experts say strong connections with team members will lead to more satisfied employees. With Workplace, teams can engage with each other about exciting news (e.g. – “We won the pitch!), learning moments (e.g. – “I am at a conference and I want to share key facts that apply to our client.”), and general information sharing (e.g. – using Workplace Live during a Town Hall to engage those who aren’t able to physically attend). This tool involves employees which will drive engagement in an organisation.
Workplace accommodates different styles which is increasingly important in marketing communications. It is sometimes hard for more introverted, analytical people to share ideas during a large meeting or call. Workplace allows for written and visual communication, two methods to express ideas that are not always accommodated in an office environment. Those who need more time to process ideas to come up with smart thinking appreciate this platform. Including our introverted and extroverted employees helps our agency come up with varied and diverse strategies.
Creating Better Work for Clients
Workplace is positively impacting our client work. As mentioned, increased collaboration across teams and offices leads to better creative ideas. We have increased best practice circulation and knowledge sharing around the network.
Another key feature of the platform is trending topics. If there is a hot topic trending within Ketchum, this will show up on the top corner, similar to personal Facebook. Employees will see if many people are talking about a specific subject which can help us be better strategic counsellors.
We were selected to be part of the Workplace beta test with a small group of 200 companies. We were thrilled to try it out launching a “pilot” for our agency. I put the word “pilot” in quotes because we had so many employees ask to join the initial group, about a quarter of our organisation, that it no longer felt like a pilot. There was huge enthusiasm over a collaboration platform that everyone instinctively understood. Additionally, as PR professionals, many were simply excited being part of Facebook’s newest product.
Continued Adoption and Challenges
Excitement and momentum of the tool continued to grow, but as of publication, engagement has slightly plateaued. We have about 70% of the agency with accounts and about half of the organisation as monthly active users.
With any new technology or change, there are those who are innovators and early adopters. The innovators and early adopters were those who self-selected into the initial pilot. Commitment and enthusiasm around the platform is still strong with this audience. The early majority has engaged, and now we need to conquer the late majority and the laggard populations.
One of challenges in adoption includes lack of mobile engagement. The team at Facebook explains that those involved on the app are much more engaged on the platform than those who are not. This rings true to my personal experience. We need to push the app out to more of our employees to drive adoption and engagement.
Another challenge for our organisation includes not removing other platforms. We send out a daily agency wide email and we also have a separate intranet. With these two things still active, along with a heavy email culture, it makes Workplace seem like another thing that people need to check, and like most busy communications experts, people simply do not have the time. I would advise to look at all internal communications platforms and tools when implementing a tool like Workplace.
Overall, Workplace, and other enterprise social networks, have huge potential. Workplace has been a smashing success in some pockets of the agency, and I see it as a major area of opportunity for other areas of the business that are currently less engaged. If we can get 80% or more of our business as active monthly users, I think this can positively shift our agency resulting in a more borderless organisation with engaged employees who create the best ideas and programs for our clients.
 Management 3.0 by Jurgen Appelo
Melissa Barry is an organisational psychologist at Ketchum, a global marketing communications agency. She helps to counsel groups and teams on strategy implementation, change management, and team dynamics. In her free time she enjoys traveling and searching for the best dim sum.