Facebook at Work – a game changer for employee engagement?

By in Views
On February 4, 2016

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Want to boost your employee engagement and adopt a truly interactive internal communications strategy? Then keep an eye on Facebook at Work, the upcoming new service which launches this year from the California-based social media giant. Currently being trialled by pilot partners such as RBS, Facebook at Work is looking like an exciting development in the workplace communication space.

Competing with tools like Microsoft’s Yammer, Skype for Business and Slack, Facebook at Work hopes to enable greater employee engagement and efficiency through better communication.

So, what is Facebook at Work?

It’s Facebook, just as you know it, but for use specifically within companies. Facebook at Work looks the same and offers most of the same features, including messages, groups, events and news feeds.

Employees set up a new account to use solely with their employer, which is totally separate to their personal account. As well as using it at their desks, they can download Facebook at Work to their phones and tablets and stay in touch on the go. People across the company should be able to communicate more, faster and better.

What’s good about it?

The familiar nature of the site means training needs are low and interest is likely to be high. People are used to and enjoy using Facebook to collaborate, interact and communicate – all attractive qualities to an employer. Unlike the broadcast-only nature of traditional employer communication methods like email, newsletters or an intranet, Facebook at Work is interactive and flexible. People can opt in and out of groups that interest them. It’s ideal for discussion and feedback.

This all means Facebook at Work could be a real game changer in the employee engagement and internal communications sphere, particularly for bigger companies. It could open up a space where people feel comfortable contributing and sharing ideas with colleagues across different sites and countries. A place where people are engaged and interested – actively looking for information and news.

This could be excellent news for communicating and embedding a tone of voice – when it’s vital to engage colleagues and encourage discussion and interaction.

Any issues?

There are a few challenges with adopting Facebook at Work, particularly around security of data and sensitive or confidential business issues. Facebook has promised that no data will be stored and monitored, so the workplace network should be secure. There are other issues too, for example around discrimination and inappropriate or defamatory comments, and making sure it doesn’t become an official place for people to waste time.

Beyond employee engagement, how successful it becomes as collaboration tool will dependent on how well it integrates with the numerous types of enterprise software. The key will be ensuring employees can actually do their jobs without having to leave Facebook at Work.  Solutions such as Cisco Spark Join.Me and Microsoft’s Skype of Business (formerly Lync) are building good reputations for working on their own but they also integrate with one another or with multiple third party suppliers’ communication products and services. True collaboration is about working in and out of the office. For example, if users have to toggle between their Outlook 365 app and Facebook at Work to jointly edit a PowerPoint or Word document on mobile devices, it’s hard to see it working as a mobile collaboration tool.

Still Feedback from RBS, one of the Facebook at Work pilot partners, has so far sounded extremely positive. Simon McNamara, RBS Chief Administrative Officer, said:

‘I’ve already been using Facebook at Work while we test it and it’s been so useful – allowing me to exchange information and ideas quickly and securely with all my team on a wide range of projects. I’m excited about how bringing people together from all across the bank through Facebook At Work can help our employees do their job better – whether it’s being able to find answers to customer queries much faster or helping us come up with bright new ideas.’

Facebook at Work sounds like it could be engaging, interactive and efficient – an enticing recipe for workplace communication. We’ll be watching with interest.

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