Last fall at WebSummit 2016, Sean Ryan, VP of Workplace by Facebook gave a talk called, "The next generation workplace." In it, Ryan talks about the urgent need for companies to reinvent themselves so that companies are less siloed and more connected, less top down and more peer-to-peer, less hierarchical and more open. At the beginning of his talk, Ryan acknowledged the topic that always comes up when people talk about collaboration at work...whether email will survive. Ryan's point is that whether email will live or die is not a very interesting question. Email is going to die anyway, he asserts. Anyone who has teenagers understands this. They don't use email.
Caption: Sean Ryan's talk starts at minute 50.
What is interesting to discuss, and what Ryan talks about is...
- How can organizations improve business outcomes?
- What actual use cases are happening around the world to change employee lives?
- How can companies make employees feel better about working where they work?
- How can people be more productive at work?
The right collaboration tool can help with all of these things, as long as it has the following principles built it:
- The tool needs to be mobile-first, not desktop first. Ryan cites three billion people in the workforce who do not have email or desks or offices or productivity office suites.
- The tool needs to be one platform that everyone can use. Ryan cites organizations that use different tools for different teams for different reasons, and they are not connected.
- Everyone needs to have access. EVERYONE. Especially those in the distributed workforce...people in retail stories, bank branches, restaurants, and hospitals...to name a few. Ryan also cites Metcalfe's Law that says that the value of a network goes up dramatically with every node added to it. Yet most companies have thousands of employees not connected to the head office because they do not have the tools. Think about all of that value lost.
With this context, Ryan provides several examples of companies all over the world using Workplace to improve various outcomes important to that particular business.
Here are just a few.
Elkjop: Connecting employees in retail stores
Elkjop is the largest retail electronics company in Norway with 10,000 employees and 400 stores. It rolled out Workplace to all employees, including those in stores and without email addresses. There are two uses cases which are quite interesting:
- Unboxing videos: Elkjop uses Workplace Live video to educate store employees on new products that will soon hit the stores, covering how to sell it and answer customer questions about the product. Employees can ask questions and get them answered, even after the live broadcast because the video is automatically saved so employees can watch the unboxing anytime.
- Team meetings without having to be there: Think about companies with employees in stores who do not have access to conference rooms and computers. Elkjop employees can now join meetings or watch recording of meetings and participate in comments after the meetings. Employees now feel more connected to the company.
These two use cases seem normal to most people who work in offices. We have meetings like this all the time. But what about distributed workforces? People who work in stores. In bank branches. In quick serve restaurants. Nurses in hospitals. They don't have access to these tools.
The next wave of collaboration tools should be about bringing communications tools to the three billion employees that do not have access to these tools.
Save the Children: Auto-translate. Post in Finnish. Read in French
Save the Children is a 100 year old philanthropic organization based in London. It uses Workplace to connect people on the ground and coordinate relief efforts at place like Haiti during the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Not only can volunteers and Save the Children employees communicate better, but using the Workplace auto-translate feature, people can post messages in Finnish and it can be read by others in French...automatically.
Countdown New Zealand: What happens when stores across the country run out of avocados?
Countdown New Zealand is the leading grocer in New Zealand. After using Workplace for a few months, employee sentiment (measured by "I am proud to work here" and "I would recommend working here.") skyrocketed. Employees say that they finally have a say in the company. Ryan tells a story about a time when the grocery store chain ran out of avocados. Employees used Workplace to share stories and recipes for how to prepare dishes with avocados using alternative ingredients. Those recipes were shared across stores to help customers. How could such a fast-moving, customer-focused exchange occur without this tool? It could not have.
Ryan also shared a story about how Countdown used Workplace to reduce incidents of customers using counterfeit notes by posting photos in Workplace of side-by-side comparisons between real notes and counterfeit ones. Employees were better informed and could more readily identify the difference.
Royal Bank of Scotland: Retaining top talent
When Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) wanted to starting using Workplace, Ryan asked them, "Why." One of the main reasons was to attract and retain talent. RBS believed that they need to provide employees (especially younger employees) cutting edge tools, like Workplace, so that people feel like they work for a cutting company. RBS management didn't think they could have employees come to work and use software that was worse than software they use in their personal lives. They believe they will never be able to retain top talent doing that.
Companies operating more like a conversation
The theme of these stories is that companies are hungry to operate more like a conversation than a presentation. Well, at least employees are. Companies need to be more open, and they need to connect all employees not just white collar workers in the main office. It is important to understand the power of Metcalfe’s Law and to understand the value organizations can leverage if they connect all employees with the right tools.
Note about the video: The entire video is about 2 hours long. Sean Ryan's talk starts at minute 50 of the video and goes for 15 minutes. So when you play the video, skip ahead to minute 50, if you only want to watch Ryan's talk. I suggest you do.
Scaling employee engagement
One of the other lessons from Sean Ryan's talk is that employee engagement can be improved in a scalable way. As you can imagine, employee engagement takes a lot of work, or at the very least, it requires deliberate effort, especially for distributed organizations. Because Workplace is designed mobile-first and to be used by all employees, especially those without email addresses or desks or computers, companies can now improve employee engagement in a scalable way. In our blog post, Can Workplace by Facebook help you scale employee engagement? tackles this issue and describes how it can be done. Read the blog post now.