One Year Later, More People Are Using Facebook’s Workplace

By Greg Wright Nov 6, 2017
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Despite concerns that employees would be hesitant to connect with co-workers on Workplace by Facebook, organizations have rapidly adopted the now year-old social networking site.

Workplace announced Oct. 26 that 30,000 organizations are using its software worldwide—more than double the number that were on the platform just six months ago. And Facebook is launching new features on Workplace, including a desktop and mobile app for Workplace chat on PC, Mac, Android or iOS, as well as a group video chat function.

Delta Airlines, global anti-poverty organization Oxfam and the Royal Bank of Scotland are among early adopters.

"There are many reasons we think organizations are turning to Workplace, but one thing they all have in common is that they want to foster more collaboration, efficiency and transparency within their organizations," said Facebook spokesperson Nora Chan. "Workplace is easy to use because it's based on familiar Facebook features, so there's little or no training required."

Workplace Aids Bonding

Companies use Workplace to set up internal social media networks that connect employees so they can share ideas, hold group chats, stream live video and collaborate with other businesses that also use Workplace.

Brunswick Group, a global business advisory firm with 24 offices worldwide, adopted Workplace in March partly to keep its far-flung employees in contact with each other, said Christopher Hannegan, global head of Brunswick's employee engagement practice.

"We have about 1,000 people around the world and they are always on planes or in a meeting with a client, so mobility is important," Hannegan said. "Workplace also didn't require much training and is easy to adopt."

Brunswick employees who are working with the same clients create Workplace Groups to share information and documents. Groups can also work together on ideas to pitch new business or share their success stories and best practices with one another.

"That type of thing is happening more and more," Hannegan said. "We put our best work on Workplace for everyone to see and be inspired by."

But it's not all work and no play—Workplace can foster personal connections between employees in the same way Facebook does outside of the office, Hannegan said.

Brunswick has a "Bookswick" group where employees can share with others what they are reading and there is a "Pupswick" group for dog lovers, he said.

Constructaquote.com, an online insurance quote comparison company based in the United Kingdom, told SHRM Online that while it finds value in Workplace, its employees don't share everything business-related on the site.

"We currently have 111 employees, and we are making good use of the service and finding real value in it," said the company's marketing manager, Ben Foster. "We are using it for a range of things, including sharing of social events and activities, coaching and personal development, general news bulletins, as well as workplace chat and discussions around new company ideas and developments."

However, staff at Constructaquote.com do not share business information with each other on Workplace.

"We don't discuss any ongoing projects or particularly sensitive information," Foster said. "That is all restricted to project management software and the like."

Facebook officials said Workplace operates separately from personal Facebook accounts and has security, hosting operations and data controls.

Meet the Competition

Workplace joins several other social media tools for business that are growing at a quick clip: Microsoft's Yammer, Basecamp, Slack and Igloo.

Igloo is an Ontario, Canada-based company that launched in 2008. It creates internal messaging and chat functions for companies. Members of Igloo teams can share information such as documents with each other or with other teams. Igloo also offers virtual town halls to communicate with staff in multiple locations.

One of the things that sets Igloo apart, however, is that it offers a custom-made site for clients , said Stephen Rahal, vice president of product strategy.

"Everything is design-driven," Rahal said. "What is unique about us is that we are creating a branded environment—a digital destination that is a reflection of your culture and brand."

Igloo has ranked on Deloitte's Technology Fast 500 list for two consecutive years. The list recognizes the fastest-growing public and private technology companies in North America. Igloo's 600 customers include Verizon, Groupon and the Penn Graduate School of Education.

"Definitely, there is a high comfort level with this," Rahal said about employees using social networking software for work. "Employees expect tools to bring a consumer-grade usability to them, and they expect to use them without a lot of training."

Greg Wright is a Baltimore-based freelance writer who has covered Congress, consumer electronics and international trade for major news organizations, including Gannett News Service/USA Today, Dow Jones and Knight-Ridder Financial News.

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