Facebook Workplace - why it might just work


Jake Ward TV-Bay Magazine
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At the Facebook F8 Developer Conference last April, Facebook's Workplace, a collaborative platform for organisations, announced enhanced live video functionality. Being able to stream live into Workplace will fundamentally change the way companies communicate, from broadcasting weekly meetings and webinars to live streaming Q&As. The possibilities really are endless.

Live video can also be used as a collaborative tool for different organisations on Workplace, allowing them to create shared spaces where collaboration take place and into which live video can be streamed. Companies operating in areas such as pharmaceuticals for example could create a group in which they invite clinicians to join. Only approved clinicians are allowed to join the group so the company can then stream live to them knowing that they have complied with regulations and helped to create a forum for further discussion.

Live video is only one facet to Workplace's appeal. I say appeal, but it feels more apt to describe Workplace as an essential need. The market for internal communications is swamped with this option, and that application, but none of them seem to have enraptured audiences. The key attractiveness of Workplace is that it boasts a similar user interface to traditional Facebook. Let's keep in mind that the latter has over 1.86 billion monthly active users, meaning that most employees don't need to learn how to use yet another new platform as they are already familiar with it. Familiarity is a big hurdle when it comes to encouraging employees to adopt a platform. If something is difficult to navigate or takes valuable time to understand, it's unlikely to be very popular amongst modern teams. Some might argue that the familiarity of a social network may foster a feeling of informality about the application, yet this is not the case. Workplace requires users to download a separate application, and cannot be accessed from the original Facebook platform.

Central to the purpose of Workplace is its ability to promote highly collaborative work spaces even across vast distances. We know, in our increasingly globalised world, that organisations are becoming less and less restricted by the constraints of location or time zones; we at Groovy Gecko have recently put a team in place in Australia, for example. It's easy to see how a platform such as Workplace can bring about a simpler way for teams to share thoughts and keep each other in the loop regardless of location.
Interestingly, a report from Deloitte recently found that only a third of millennials in the workplace feel their organisation is making the most of their skills and experience. Given that millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, organisations evidently need to adopt a way of fostering collaboration and the transparent exchanging of ideas to reverse this belief. I can quite confidently imagine Workplace playing a key role here, as tech-savvy employees join the workforce.

Workplace is already being used by more than 14,000 organisations (in 77 different languages I might add) to transform the way they operate. The expansive list includes Columbia Sportswear, Telnet, Air Asia, Booking.com, ASOS, the Singaporean Government and Volkswagen Group Ireland to name but a few.

Building a company culture is crucial if an organisation wants its talent to thrive. From our partnership with Workplace, one story stuck with me for obvious reasons and that was a story about Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnston. It turns out that the Starbucks senior management team, including Kevin, regularly live stream their town hall meetings on Workplace to thousands of store managers in the US. Individual stores may well have had a pretty solid employee community established beforehand, but with real-time access to the shared vision at the top, store managers found themselves part of a much bigger community, all thanks to Workplace. If that doesn't embody a healthy company culture, I don't know what does!


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Contributing Author Jake Ward

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