Making Facebook's Workplace work at your place Credit: FacebookIDG
Business Management

Making Facebook's Workplace work at your place

Facebook’s Workplace was launched in 2016 and now counts more than two million employees at hundreds of companies worldwide as users. It incorporates all the familiar functionality and features of Facebook – save for the adverts and privacy concerns – and is pitched at enterprise as an easy to pick-up collaboration and internal communications tool.

A number of local customers in Australia (which include NAB, Bunnings, NBN Co, Hoyts and Vodafone) shared their experiences with the platform at Facebook's Australian headquarters in Sydney last week.

Here’s what they had to say…

Coca Cola Amatil

Coca Cola Amatil is the Asia Pacific bottling partner of Coca-Cola and one of the region’s largest manufacturers and distributors of beverages and ready-to-eat food snacks. Around 12,000 employees work for the company across six countries.

While existing internal communications were “reasonably effective” they were delivered with a “pretty traditional approach” said Liz McNamara, the company’s group director of public affairs, communications and sustainability.

“We were pretty siloed in how we operated, and even in our head office in Sydney we were pretty siloed between the different businesses located there. We wanted to approach internal comms in a way that brought everyone together,” McNamara said.

“The majority of our workforce isn’t at a desk every day. They’re in manufacturing facilities, in trucks or out in the market selling to our customers. Getting communications to those people and developing our culture of ‘One Amatil’ was difficult. It was costly and time consuming,” she added.

After weighing up a number of social collaboration tools, the firm landed on Workplace. The platform was launched just 27 days after picking the provider, a “pretty scary, hair raising time” McNamara recalled.

Within six months, 80 per cent of the organisation had activated their accounts. The platform is now a place for executives to share messages and for employers to share their successes big or small. Recognition from top brass is readily given with a like or reaction.

“Don’t underestimate the power of that like or comment. Every time you click like on a display in Woolworths in Adelaide, that sales rep has an added sense of purpose and pride,” McNamara said.

Workplace is now being used by 85 per cent of employees with access, clocking up 1,900 posts, 3,800 comments in the last seven days. It is home to 1,400 groups as well as a work chat based virtual assistant called AVA (Amatil Virtual Assistant) which can answer employee questions.

“We found once we switched it on and got it going, it was our people that convinced the doubters that this was the right thing for Amatil,” McNamara said.

Winc

Winc (Work Incorporated) brand was launched in 2017 when a US private equity firm acquired Staples in Australia and New Zealand. Last year, the firm bought OfficeMax.

Some 18 months ago a staff survey found employees didn’t feel engaged and didn’t see enough of their leaders. With 400 new staff from OfficeMax soon joining, the company needed a way to bring the organisations together, communicate the huge changes and establish a combined culture.

“We needed to bring employees on that journey…Our weekly newsletter wasn’t going to cut it,” said Caroline Astrand, digital communications manager at the firm.

Despite some hesitation from senior leaders within the organisation, they are now fully on board, Astrand said.

“Another system I have to learn, I don’t have time for that, why can’t I just send an email?” she recalled them saying. Now they are “really behind it”.

“Workplace made the change easier. It connects people with executives, to ask questions, raise concerns and ideas. It’s a real time connection,” Astrand said.

On day one of the platform launch, around 60 per cent of employees signed up. The rate is now at 86 per cent. It has become a key part of the new employee onboarding process.

Read more: IBM closes Red Hat deal for $34 billion

To date, there have been 10,000 comments and thousands of likes on content posted to Workplace.

“In the 12 months we measured our weekly newsletter we had two responses,” Astrand said.

“We now share news, videos from the CEO, help solve problems, and celebrate things, even the small things. Which is important when you run a transformation,” she added.

A more recent worker survey found 86 per cent of employees now ‘feel connected’ to the company as a result of the communications they see.

Ambulance Victoria

“We don’t stop,” said Ambulance Victoria’s digital communications specialist Lauren Love of her organisation.

The organisation is responsible for providing emergency medical transport, pre-hospital care and non-emergency transport services for all of Victoria, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Around 6,000 staff and volunteers work for the organisation across seven regions in the state.

With rising demand for services, along with a changing workforce, a rethink of how the organisation communicated internally was required.

“Our people had less time to access information at branch, they’re always on the road. We had a changing workforce, with more millennials who take on information differently. How do we talk to those people?” Love said.

Read more: Bunnings MD gives thumbs up, smiley face to Facebook's Workplace

There was a lack of two way communication, she added.

“People might say email is two way, but when ones coming from the executive, you don’t write back,” she said.

Following the “phenomenally low” results of a staff survey on communications, Love and her team turned to Workplace, launching in 2017.

The platform is used for paramedics and staff to share information between themselves, broadcast events streams for rural volunteers and for people to ask questions of experts and the executive.

“We wanted to share knowledge. Our people are very smart and highly educated. The more we can get them to share their knowledge the quicker we can innovate. We can’t teach it all, but they can teach each other,” Love explained.

“People don’t use the intranet now unless they need to find a document,” she added.

Key to the success of the roll out was convincing the incredibly busy employees that the platform could solve their problems and eliminate pain points.

“People think that Workplace will make more work for them, that’s their concern. When you show them it can solve their problems, they’re suddenly interested. When you solve an issue, they’re more on board. It gets buy in,” Love said.

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

« Businesses will each have 35 AI projects underway by 2022, Gartner predicts

NEXT ARTICLE

How IBM tweaked its Wimbledon highlight-picking AI to remove bias »
author_image
IDG News Service

The IDG News Service is the world's leading daily source of global IT news, commentary and editorial resources. The News Service distributes content to IDG's more than 300 IT publications in more than 60 countries.

  • Mail

Poll

Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?