What do Facebook's internal tools look like

This is how the tool works for companies

According to the current Rising CCO study, internal communication or employee engagement is one of the most important focus topics for most companies. The topic of digitization is also right at the top. Taken together, these two points are clear signs for Facebook's new B2B platform. So it's time for a reality check: What can Workplace do? Weber Shandwick was one of the first users in the beta phase. This finally enabled around 4,000 employees to test the platform for internal purposes and those of our customers.

Workplace is like Facebook - and a lot of people already use Facebook for private purposes. The tool does not have to be explained in great detail and is easy to use. First of all, these are good basic requirements for actually using it. With the familiar functions such as profile, chats, newsfeed and groups, the tool is easy and intuitive to understand right from the start. New colleagues do not have to be laboriously trained and even older colleagues who may not have used Facebook privately can find their way around easily.

Informed mobile everywhere

Of course, at the beginning there were a few voices that feared for their privacy. But a completely independent work account with its own URL completely separates professional and private Facebook. To do this, you can easily switch back and forth between the profiles. The mobile version has independent apps that employees with access to Workplace can download free of charge. Similar to the private version, a distinction is made here between the actual app and the messenger, the work chat. It enables group chats, calls and video calls including screen and program sharing. Group video calls with a share option would also be desirable at this point. This would make virtual meetings even easier. In general, however, it can be said that the mobile version in particular makes internal communication easier for all companies whose employees are often on the move. Or described from the employee's point of view: It's super easy to stay up to date on the go. Internal information as a debt to collect is thus made easy.

Communicate live and very personally

We see an increasing trend in internal communication in live communication. So it was only natural that our Global CEO Andy Polansky was the first to be present when Facebook enabled live video. In this way, information can be quickly shared with others, but is also retained in the long term and can always be accessed. As engaging as this personal form of interaction with questions is via the comment function as a live format, one unfortunately has to compromise on quality. If you like it high quality, you have to use other live streaming formats or video options; However, these are of course not as easy to set up as with Workplace: Here it is just a push of a button. For us, the feature is well on the way to becoming an integral part of the corporate communication strategy.

Great for decentralized group work

The workplace tool lives from groups. All communication and collaboration works through it. These groups include, for example, members of a customer team, location or an entire country. In this way, a team that is spread over several locations and / or countries can work together much more easily and reduce the flood of emails with the help of contributions and comments. The groups can be open, closed or secret.

In general, it becomes clear here: The tool is particularly suitable for larger, decentralized organizations. As a global agency, many colleagues work together across multiple locations, national borders and time zones. Above all, the global exchange of knowledge benefits massively for us. It has never been so easy and efficient as it is now to ask 4,000 colleagues about something or to identify global trends.

For a transparent employee culture, all colleagues and their work profiles are visible, and particularly interesting profiles can be followed. This means that you don't have to laboriously add your colleagues as friends and wait for confirmation, as is the case with Workplace’s private counterpart. Group contributions from ex-colleagues are also retained. The only drawback here: Former employees like to remain in the files as files and have to be deleted manually by an admin. Facebook doesn't seem to offer an automated process here either in the near future.

Corporate cultures become visible

Workplace has already successfully found its way into our own corporate culture. For example, we use the events function to organize nationwide campaigns such as a cake baking challenge or an EM prediction game, post photos of employee parties and share the most creative microwave lunch recipes.

Conclusion: easy to use - with small to big challenges

Facebook's Workplace is a simple platform for sharing knowledge. It is a supplementary means of internal communication and, if used more precisely, can help to clear up full e-mails. However, this only works if you turn off email notifications.

Above all, the tool lives from how much and on what topics it is used by employees. Managers play a special role if it is to become a central tool for internal communication. Here, as everywhere, "Walk the talk" applies: lead by example, actively use the channel and, above all, reduce e-mail communication. If the managers are not ready, the tool will not be able to contribute to the desired improvement in internal communication.

My assessment is that the platform is definitely suitable for a larger role in internal communication strategies. However, it currently does not replace the intranet, which provides central documents and overviews, or other project management tools such as Slack. However, I am convinced that the use of the platform will become independent over time due to its simplicity and intuition and there are certainly a lot of features in the Facebook pipeline that will also replace other tools in the future. But very important: don't just introduce it and everyone will get started somehow. It must be carefully considered which role the tool should play in the overall strategy of internal communication.