TopIC Banner - Exploring Workplace
25th Feb 2020
3 Min Read

Facebook Workplace. The overlooked internal communications nuances

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
IC & Engagement

Since launching back in 2016, Facebook’s Workplace platform has been a regular hot topic for those in the digital workplace and employee engagement industry.

Workplace has featured regularly in my digital workplace musings too, and with good reason. It’s an incredibly competent tool, and, when rolled out properly, has serious potential to enhance your employee engagement, business culture and collaboration ambitions.

We’ve helped a few of our clients out with their Workplace ambitions – from the more tactical opportunities like live Town Hall streaming, leader Q&A sessions, launches, design or training, to the more strategic consultancy around vision and purpose, and realising the platform’s capability as a place for meaningful employee conversation and support of the work they need to do.

And on these journeys, we’ve discovered a few nuanced but important things that can often be overlooked when establishing Workplace in a business. So today, I’m sharing some of those insights with you.

Watch the full video or read on for a full breakdown:

Don‘t shoot the Messenger

Workplace comes with Workplace Messenger, much like Facebook doubles up with Facebook Messenger. But many companies overlook the tool and the opportunity of a capable, integrated business-wide group Messenger service. It’s essentially an IT-approved WhatsApp-like tool for your whole business, and deserves proper attention, as well as a considered implementation plan.

Don’t let it go to waste; make sure your employees know about, and can get the most out of, Workplace Messenger too.

Group governance

Workplace groups are where the really cool stuff happens, and they come in four flavours: announcements, social, discussions and project collaboration. Knowing how these types impact the group functionality and how they’re used, is important, and ensuring your employees know these differences is key if you want them to get the most out of the platform too.

On top of this, most businesses recreate the existing silos – departmental, geographical, hierarchical – in their Workplace groups, which we’ve seen severely limit their success, and simply rebuild the ‘real world’ silos that, often, Workplace was introduced to get rid of.

Groups that have a key purpose, and consider the audience, have considerably more success than ‘one size fits all’ groups.

For example, you might want a Cyber Security announcements group, a Cyber Security Discussions group and a Cyber Security Collaboration group, each with potentially different security setup and sign-in processes. It sounds like a lot, but it means that the purpose of each group is clear both to members and any potential new audience. Through this, you empower employees to pick and choose the content and information that’s right for them, which should always be your game plan.

Group governance really is an important topic, and I’ll be putting together a post on this specifically soon.

Manage leader expectations

Sometimes the expectations for new digital platforms can be a little unrealistic.

When we switch on Workplace, collaborative behaviours will fill our offices and the business will triple in value in the next year…

It’s important to create a strategy around Workplace that not only meets the needs of the business, but has realistic expectations. A new Workplace roll-out will often involve many meetings with the more senior executives in your business. Ensure you’re helping them understand the true value of the platform for your business, by attaching Workplace’s value to key strategic business goals. Is customer service keeping execs up at night? Then what can Workplace do to support these goals? Explore and present these solutions to the execs who need to hear it.

… and be able to demonstrate the impact the tool is having

Vision is key, of course, but being able to then measure the impact of Workplace against this vision is essential in demonstrating the value of the tool to the business, and in showcasing that all your hard work is paying off!

I’ve spoken about the importance of digital measurement in a previous blog with my colleague and measurement whiz Lisa Hawksworth, and these principles very much ring true for Workplace, too. Check out that blog here.


Check in with the IT folks that what you’re promising with the platform is, in fact, possible ‘in the real world’. It’s one thing to tell your managers they can now host live team meetings in private Workplace groups, but if bandwidth is a problem in their office, or if their teams are based in warehouses or wards that have zero internet coverage, it’s simply not going to work. Be sure to get a handle on any connectivity issues beforehand, and if you’ve got a robust vision for why Workplace is important (see above), then any investment in connectivity infrastructure will be a lot easier to champion and secure.

Community Manager

It’s all well and good agreeing a destination and plotting your course, but if you don’t have someone steering the ship, then wind, the ocean waves, and all sorts of factors are likely to push you off course. A captain is key, and Workplace (and other online collaborative communities) can really flourish with Community Management* support. This resource absolutely should not be overlooked.

Understanding Workplace in your organisation

Of course, there are many factors that can help make or break a good Workplace roll-out within your business, and these will also differ business to business, depending on the cultures, infrastructure, capability and ambition of the business for the tool.

The above represent some of the ‘easy to overlook, but vitally important’ elements that would sit alongside the important vision, governance, advocacy, leadership, content, access, education and launch work, that are vital to the success of any digital workplace roll-out.

But I hope exposing and exploring these more nuanced elements will help you understand some of the things at play during a Workplace roll-out project. And of course, if you’d like to talk to me and the scarlettabbott team about how to get the most out of Workplace where you are, please get in touch.

*A Community Manager drives the change necessary for a successful online community, and typically spends their time promoting the platform as it grows, encouraging and curating content, making connections between posted questions and useful answers and, more widely, facilitating positive contributions. They’ll also support senior colleagues, meet with teams and departments to help them unlock the collaborative potential on offer, and generally be the welcoming, knowledgeable face of the platform.

Even if the role forms a smaller part of a job description, having Community Manager responsibilities as part of a colleague’s performance objectives will ensure the role gets the attention it deserves, and will make sure the community is given the very best chance of growing and flourishing.

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