Facebook at Work is now Workplace by Facebook, and the rollout recently made the rounds of business news outlets like Fast Company and Forbes.
Regardless of the branding or the buzz around Facebook’s foray into business communications networks, the real question is “So what?”
So what if it’s Facebook at work? So what if it’s competing in the enterprise social space? And so what if it’s got a new name or a new look?
What most professionals really want to know is, “Does it work?” Not just does it work, but can Workplace be useful as a communications platform for business. Even more so, is it a better way to communicate than other platforms like email?
At Carpool, we’ve been using Workplace for several months and implementing it in our daily communications. Actually, we don’t send any emails internally and rely solely on Workplace to handle our informal communications, which is particularly important because of our environment.
If you’re new to Workplace—or new to using social tools in the enterprise for that matter—here are a few features you might not know about that will help you make the most of the tool at work.
Live Video Broadcasts
Video is big and getting bigger. In fact, in 2011, the firm Melcrum found that 93 percent of internal communication professionals reported that video is essential. In the years since, video has only grown more essential to workplace communications. Compared to other internal comms—newsletters, emails, chat—video is remarkably easy to compile these days, quick to deliver to an internal audience, and easily consumable.
Particularly in the areas of asynchronous communication, video offers a wealth of opportunity to get work done faster and in a remote workplace.
Workplace recently added live video to the platform. As live video broadcasts gain a foothold in the consumer world on the consumer Facebook site, Workplace presents the opportunity for people in your company to quickly broadcast their thoughts and important updates while gathering feedback from anyone who chooses to watch.
At Carpool, we’ve been using Workplace video much more to share what we’re doing and to work remotely.
As with any communication channel that brings together a lot of people, Workplace can feel a bit noisy when many people are communicating. One obvious way to negate the amount of noise is to divide your network into groups that play host to conversations based on the topic, team, business goal, etc. In order to stay on top of all those issues, you could subscribe to every group—which we do not recommend as it will lead to the same issue many people experience with inbox overload—or browse through the different groups to see what people are talking about.
Better yet, you can use Workplace’s trending topics feature. Trending topics filter through all the conversations taking place on Workplace to find those that are generating the most interest among your employees. Much like the feature on the consumer version of Facebook, Workplace’s trending topics will bring to the forefront the content you need to know while not overloading you with everything that is being discussed.
Ideally, most, if not all, of your communications should take place in group threads. Of course, it’s not always feasible or wise to talk about some things in the open. Likewise, there are times when a quick chat is a more efficient way to coordinate.
Fortunately, Workplace allows multiple people to jump into one chat, making it easy to coordinate between individuals and across teams. You can also add people to the conversation in chat, much in the same way that you can in an ordinary group thread. There’s also a one-click method of starting a chat will all the members of a group. At Carpool, there are some groups that include everyone in the company. This means we can instantly open a chat room with everyone in the office at once—very useful when you got the office first and forgot your key.
Get Notifications in Your Inbox
Yes, you can forward Facebook at Work notifications to your inbox. Why would you want to? Well, we’re not really sure, but some people have a hard time saying goodbye to email. This is a great feature to onboard some of the more hesitant types as it will notify them in a place they already use and slowly, but surely, draw them away from the inbox and into a more open, social, and collaborative network.
Emojis, GIFs, and Other Fun Stuff
OK, you may have guessed this was included 😃. Although Facebook at Work differs greatly from your at-home Facebook experience, the ability to add emojis, stickers, GIFs, and reactions—like, wow, funny, etc.—lets people express their personalities and weave stronger connections with coworkers.
Your company culture isn’t just about making work an enjoyable experience, it is the glue that holds your organization together. According to a study by Columbia University, turnover at organizations with “rich company culture” is just 13.9 percent, whereas turnover at places with poor culture is more than three times that rate at 48.4 percent. With a poor company culture, you will likely lose nearly half of your employees and with them an almost immeasurable amount of institutional knowledge, experience, and money spent on training new hires.
The role of the manager is changing. Today’s managers are no longer babysitters—at least, they shouldn’t be—but are instead data-driven productivity machines. A tool like Workplace offers so much more because it allows managers to measure actual productivity. Using the built-in analytics, you can see how information flows in an organization.
Speaking about the evolution of the workplace and transitioning into a remote work environment—which requires a heavy reliance on communication tools like Workplace—Carpool Co-founder Jarom Reid explained that the new role of the manager is fueled by the tools and data at their disposal.
“We’ve talked to clients about this, we’ve noticed it ourselves that a middle manager is essentially a glorified babysitter where the intent is, ‘We’ll give you 10 people that report to you and your job is to make them like you so that we can become 10 times more productive than we were when it was just you.’ The evolution of that middle manager, I think, is still the same outcome, but the way you get to that point is a little different, where you’re not necessarily babysitting them every day—watching over their shoulder, making sure that their at their seat, at their desk, etc.—you’re looking at what they’re producing, their output if you will.”
Reid went on to say “we track that using our tools—we can look using [Workplace]; we can look using Asana, our task-tracking tool; we can use SharePoint; we can utilize Harvest, which is our hour-tracking tool—we’ve got these tools that are telling stories about how our people are working. Because that digital footprint is there, we’re able to analyze what that footprint looks like; we’re able to see gaps.”
Tools like Workplace are about more than features. They hold the potential to deeply embed in your company culture and fundamentally shift the way you work. For Carpool, Workplace and Yammer are the linchpin that allows us to operate in a remote, digital office.
We preach the gospel of collaborative networks like these because we know, first-hand, what they can do for others. While change can feel intimidating, particularly when it involves pivoting from a cornerstone of communication like email, there are so many benefits to evolving the way we communicate at work. And we want to help others on their journey to becoming more agile and productive.