15th May 2024
3 Min Read

Meta calls time on Workplace

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
IC & Engagement

Big (but not surprising) news: Meta has decided to call it a day on Workplace, its employee experience comms and collaboration platform.

The stuff of (Yammer’s) dreams

Launched almost 10 years ago under the name ‘Facebook for Work’ – then rebranded to Workplace in 2016 – its launch raised eyebrows in the comms and collaboration community.

Meta promised Workplace would be “what Yammer wished it was”; a proper Enterprise Social Network with all the tools and functionality you’d expect.

The internal communications (IC) community had a hopeful kind of scepticism back then. A Silicon Valley giant making tools for us? Well, it was bound to be feature-rich with all the live video, photograph, praise and status update tools we needed and wanted, right?

But this giant also had no IC credentials … and in those first few months, it showed. As with most promised platforms, Workplace was tech-led, not people-led.

All the right tools for the wrong job

Workplace had all the right functions and features for, well, a social media platform, and had the capability for great things. But the strategy – copying marketing and social media principles from the external comms world – just didn’t stick. And it was clear after the launch that Meta hadn’t partnered with or taken on board any of the feedback from the IC community.

It was always “look what Workplace can do” instead of answering the question “why is this relevant to the IC world? How’s this going to support my business strategy beyond internal marketing events and feel-good vibes?”

You see, what works in the restaurant doesn’t always work well in the kitchen.

This is probably one of the most expensive failures of ‘copying and pasting’ external marketing tactics into the world of employee experience we’ve ever seen. There’s a niche for internal business audiences – what they need to know and what they need to do – that Workplace could have easily slotted into. It’s a world far away from the infinite scrollers: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and the like. But instead, we just got more of the same.

No wonder it failed.

Not angry; just disappointed

It’s a shame. I believe the IC community really wanted Workplace to work. For too long we’ve been working with lacklustre platforms that only just supported what we’re trying to do; share the important info with a busy workforce and support their need for connection, collaboration and wellbeing.

Workplace felt like it just might’ve been the one – and we don’t know why Meta pulled the plug – but I believe the failure was in the implementation and roll-out stage, rather than the capability of the platform itself.

I’ve said this repeatedly, and it seems even some of the most influential and powerful businesses in the world still don’t get it: it doesn’t matter what tool you use. If you can’t define what it’s used for and how it supports business objectives, it won’t stand up to the scrutiny of a busy employee.

Do your digital tools do the job?

Whatever your digital employee experience platform, we can help you pick one that supports your IC and business objectives. The answer may even lie within your existing tech stack. If you’d like help migrating your online employee community from Workplace – or even some support in working out ‘where’ your community should go – we’ve got your back.

Get in touch.

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