Workplace by Facebook: The Internal Communications Game Changer

Technology has the potential to deliver huge communication and productivity benefits within an organisation but it won’t change how we work. That takes people.

The intersection of internal communication and social media within an organisation is a good place to study human behaviour. The return on investment of borderless communication, collaboration and improved productivity are well established, but organizations often struggle with the employee adoption needed to capitalize on this investment.

It’s a challenge that we understand well at Ketchum. Our Digital and Change teams have worked with hundreds of clients who have been wrestling with this issue. It’s also something we’ve worked hard on within our own business.

If you build it, it doesn’t mean they will come.
We’ve been early adopters of different forms of technology – from messaging to social networks, and from Internet telephony to video conferencing. The reality is that it’s tough to use technology as a platform to change habits within a large organisation. Email and telephones are deeply embedded tools.

You can provide new platforms but it doesn’t mean that people will use them in the way they were intended, let alone engage with each other in new ways. That’s why we’re excited about Facebook’s new Workplace by Facebook product, because it addresses the issue of human behaviour.

Facebook launched Workplace by Facebook as a commercial product in London yesterday. Ketchum was named a service partner to help organisations plan, implement and manage the platform.

Facebook is well established in our personal lives. More than one billion people use it as means of communication with family and friends every day. It’s a utility that is integrated in our lives.

Most of us intuitively understand how the News Feed, threaded conversations and groups work. We know how to publish posts and share images or video. We use Messenger for direct conversations.

Many organisations have private Facebook groups on the public platform. Indeed in every organisation we’ve worked with so far we’ve found employees using regular Facebook for work or social purposes with colleagues because it has advantages over internal technology systems.

Facebook now provides that same experience in a private version of the platform for enterprise organisations. We believe that it’s poised to be a game changer.

Workplace by Facebook will change the workplace.
Ketchum has been among the 1000 companies beta testing Workplace by Facebook.

We’ve rolled out the platform to our workforce worldwide and gained a huge amount of behavioural, cultural and workflow experience. Most of all we have learnt how to foster high levels of engagement and knowledge sharing.

Instead of expecting people to learn new behaviours in order to adopt a new tool, Workplace by Facebook is a familiar environment (click to tweet). It is entirely separate from personal Facebook but the look and feel is the same. This presents an interesting opportunity.

Instead of readying the workforce for another new technology, the task with Workplace by Facebook is to ready the organization. Employees are using Facebook anyway. Imagine the possibilities if they are equipped with a version of this already familiar and intuitive social tool – at work, for work.

In the last quarter we’ve started to support clients with Workplace by Facebook implementations through strategic planning, change management, developing launch and engagement plans, community management, and governance.

We’ve built a cross-functional, multi-regional team consisting of expertise across internal communications and employee engagement, digital, legal, organisational development, HR, information technology, and project management.

We’ve had great partnership from Facebook along the way in our own launch of the platform and with our clients. The focus and motivation of this team has ensured the delivery and adoption of Workplace by Facebook within the business, drawing upon different functions at various phases of implementation.

Are you ready?
We’re already seeing huge benefits to adopting Workplace by Facebook internally at Ketchum. More than 300 communities for offices, practices and social groups have been created. It has become a place to cultivate creativity, share ideas, facilitate discussions and improve knowledge management.

Please leave a question in the comments below or contact me directly if you would like to talk about how you could implement Workplace by Facebook within your organisation.

About Stephen Waddington

Stephen is a Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University. Chairman of Future Proof policy unit and Past President, CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too. Connect with him on Twitter: @wadds

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