"We haven’t sent an organization-wide email in months," Kirsty Traill, VP of Customers at Hootsuite"
This comment was music to my ears. The last large company I worked for had locations across the country and around the world, so dealing with those mass announcement emails was a pain. There was always that one person who 'replied all', thereby starting off an email chain that lasted for days and you just couldn't get off of.
It's impressive to hear how Hootsuite is using Workplace by Facebook across five global locations as a means to engage their teams internally and also improve how their customer teams collaborate too. They're enhancing the customer experience at the same time they're increasing internal collaboration.
Add in the increase in remote workers (nearly 31% of American workers are spending 80+% of their time working remotely), and you've got a larger number of your workforce needing better tools to collaborate both internally and externally. There are so many tools available to business users today, but many of them are additional services to what they're using already.
Instead of leaving your employees to juggle three or four different services to collaborate, why not use a single platform where they can do it all? Workplace by Facebook makes it easy to share news, updates across your organization, and get people collaborating in meaningful ways in a single platform. Try these communication ideas that have proven useful to improving your internal communication.
1- Build your company culture with videos
Live or recorded videos are a personal and authentic way for your leadership team to share their vision and build relationships with their employees. Many companies have shied away from video thinking it's too "complicated" to do, while company leaders may not like the idea of being recorded.
Overcome the recording fears with structured broadcasts
Regular videos from company leadership can be a great way to increase transparency of the company with employees and build a strong company culture. But company leaders who aren't comfortable in front of the camera may balk at this feature of Workplace. Yet by scheduling structure broadcasts like town hall meetings, they can simply read a script off-screen while a presentation plays in the video on Workplace. Employees hear the leader's voice and start to develop a relationship with him or her and the leader gets more comfortable doing a live video.
Remote employees will see their immediate leadership more frequently
A quick recorded "welcome to the team" email by a manager for a new employee is just the start for a new remote employee. A remote tour of the head office helps to orient remote workers with their new employers, while a regular "where I work" video by each team member can foster a deeper sense of "team" (plus managers can get a better view on where their direct reports work, so they can have better productivity conversations in the future if necessary).
2- Bring your employees closer together with groups
When you're not located in the same physical location as your immediate colleagues or even the rest of your company, you have to find different ways to share information and files. Forget about brainstorming your team's next project together — how can you do that when you're never 'together'?
Hootsuite uses groups in Workplace to bring its teams together. In a chat with ServiceRocket, Traill talked about how the different teams at Hootsuite use the group functionality of Workplace to stay updated with each other. For her own team, Traill "post(s) a monthly update which summarizes key highlights across the team for the previous month, results against KPIs and a snapshot of what is coming up in the following month. I also call out some key individuals for their contributions that month, and provide a new hires and departures update."
There are a number of different Workplace groups that share different information with each other, such as:
The one that's just for employees (no management)
The one that promotes employee growth and movement through promotion, hew hire, and departure announcements
The "shout-out" group where anyone at Hootsuite can post positive messages about anyone at any time
Location-specific groups for each office location that foster local discussions, but also help employees who are travelling to other offices tap into the local office culture before arriving. It makes arrivals and office visits more productive for Hootsuite staff because the travelling employee gets to meet people before arriving.
Traill explained that some of these groups have high engagement rates (upwards of 95% weekly active participation in some groups), while others like the Shout Out group have 100% participation and high engagement rates. In fact, she went on to say, the Shout Out group entirely employee-driven, meaning employees have to ask to join and everyone does. It goes to show just how important this type of positive environment is to Hootsuite and its employees.
3- Keep everyone informed wherever they are
One of the main reasons Workplace by Facebook customers like it is the fact it's accessible on mobile devices. For office workers who always sit in front of a computer or laptop, that's not as critical. But for distributed workforces or employees who don't have regular access to a company computer like retail employees or construction workers who are on job sites, mobile access to Workplace plays an important role in relaying company information.
Take Starbucks for example. Starbucks uses Workplace to help partners stay in touch with head office, each other, and their employees. Countdown Supermarkets in New Zealand saw four times more views of company communications after starting with Workplace than in the six previous weeks.
No matter their location or work situation, employees can stay updated on everything through Workplace by Facebook on their mobile device. They can view:
Regular news on the company group page.
Check out the latest product offerings in a group document just as if they were looking at it on a computer, complete with rich formatting and inline images.
Critical updates sent out from head office, getting notification on their mobile devices of time-sensitive information.
4- Get ideas from everywhere with sharing and reaction features
Workplace by Facebook makes it easy to share information, but is also a great place for employees to share their thoughts and reactions to information. You can create polls in groups to generate instant feedback on any topic, from future project ideas to employee sentiment after company-wide announcements to where you'll hold the next team event.
Employees can be an untapped source of trends and competitive intelligence. A trend-spotting group can help you gather data from wherever your employees are, helping you to guide projects and overall business goals. Your global employees will give you first-hand insights into those markets without having to go out and find the information elsewhere.
That's how Starbucks discovered some new menu items; employees were talking about it in one of their groups. The marketing team saw the discussion, did a little research, and within 24 hours, put the item into regular rotation on their menus. "What usually takes several months at Starbucks was possible in less than 24 hours, thanks to the collaboration through Workplace."
You'll also be able to surface the best ideas from your employees because they'll be talking and sharing about them on Workplace. Gone are the days when the next great idea is buried in an email thread between small groups of people in a corner of the office. You can share ideas and innovations through Workplace and uncover new product or process ideas that could increase revenues and lower production costs.
That's how Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company, was able to get news of a research project on the front page of Norway's leading newspaper within 24 hours of it being completed. Johannes Belland, a senior data scientist at Telenor, shared research from his department on a company-wide Workplace group. Senior leaders saw the update and got in touch with Telenor's communications team, who reached out to Belland. The next day, the research was on the front page.
5- Use bots in Workplace to drive standard communication
Just like the AI bots powering customer support questions online, bots can be integrated into Workplace by Facebook to automated regular tasks. The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) recently started exploring automation tasks in Workplace.
They integrated the RBS Virtual Assistant bot into their Workplace environment so it can handle common office service center questions about company email, printers, and access to bank systems. To use the VA, RBS employees simple search for it on Workplace Chat and start a conversation; the bot handles the rest.
Collaborative work environments are critical in today's business world. Not only does it help companies grow and evolve by shining a light on information that previously was hidden, but it's necessary for the distributed and remote workforces that are becoming the norm. Gone are the days when you could share information on a bulletin board by the watercooler.
“Technology has the power to enable two-way conversations, not top-down communications, and democratize employee culture. It can give everyone a voice, from the CEO to the newest intern and from desk to mobile workers,” Julien Codorniou, VP at Workplace by Facebook said. Dedicated online portals like Workplace by Facebook allow companies to connect, communicate, and collaborate securely, making employees more engaged and productive.
Is your company using Workplace by Facebook? Do you find it easier to collaborate with your colleagues? Share your experience in the comments, we'd love to hear more.