Eight Important Lessons for Launching Workplace by Facebook

Today Facebook officially launched Workplace by Facebook, its enterprise collaboration platform. At Edelman, we have been beta testing Workplace since earlier this year. Now more than 80 percent of our employees, including CEO Richard Edelman, actively use the platform. More than 700 groups have been established across our global network and feedback from the pilot has been positive. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and we aren’t done.

Based on our experience, here are eight takeaways for organizations to consider when launching Workplace:

  1. Start at the end. The end goal, that is. Edelman launched Workplace to solve a specific problem: to unlock the knowledge that is all too often trapped in individual email inboxes. Who hasn’t gotten that shot-in-the-dark plea with “does anyone know where I go to find X” in the subject line? We set out to more readily surface expertise across the firm and bring our best collective thinking to clients.
  2. Influence the influencers. We first trialed Workplace during an annual planning meeting with 100 of the firm’s top leaders. This was after aligning IT, Internal Communications, Marketing and enlisting guidance from Edelman’s client-facing Employee Engagement and Digital teams. We then identified more than 100 highly networked employees and trained them to be our champions for Workplace. We also assigned dedicated community managers for each group to help source, create and moderate content on an ongoing basis.
  3. Describe versus prescribe. While we laid out clear intentions and goals for groups, each community has the freedom to use their space in a way that amplifies what they’re already doing. The 700+ groups set up since launch range from collaboration spaces for account teams to special interest groups who swap everything from local concert tickets to writing tips.
  4. Focus on cultural, not technical, transformation. Since Workplace looks and feels like Facebook, our employees didn’t need much technical training. Instead, we focused on priming our culture for adoption in three key ways: we armed community managers and senior leaders with content well before launch; we offered guidance on when to use Workplace versus email; and we kept it up past Day 1, offering repeated, small group demonstrations and coaching.
  5. Your news engine is hungry. Feed it. A restaurant with a sparkling exterior will fail if there’s nothing on the menu. Similarly, a platform is only as good as its content. Your internal communications must command attention to cut through the clutter of external news and social chatter. Will employees click on your content or the personality quiz in their external social feed? We developed a pre-launch interactive content strategy for Workplace and approached it with the editorial discipline of a newsroom. We’ve had particular success with a #makemeproud storytelling campaign that invites employees to share client work that makes them proud.
  6. Lead through your leaders. We are experimenting with Live Video as an alternative to webcasts and recently used it to celebrate our 64th Founder’s Day with CEO Richard Edelman talking about the firm’s family heritage. Moreover, while it’s important for leaders to actively engage on Workplace, but what they don’t do sends an equally strong message. We are encouraging managers to move from sharing news via email distribution lists to Workplace, which is an important cultural shift.
  7. Empower teams with local autonomy. Each office within Edelman’s global network has its own unique strategy for Workplace that reflect local market, culture and team dynamics. Locations had the freedom to stage their own launch events, while still tapping into globally available content.
  8. Finally, keep it up. A splashy initial launch will fade once the novelty wears off. Maximizing employee engagement with Workplace requires continuous content planning, leadership engagement, advocacy by internal champions, training refreshers and ongoing change management to reinforce key behaviors.

Edelman is a Workplace Partner with Facebook and helps organizations engage their employees in Workplace. We help clients design launch campaigns, engage internal champions, create content that commands attention and identify opportunities for leaders to build stronger connections with employees.

Read our October issue of Connections for a downloadable version of the full article.

Tamara Snyder, executive vice president, Employee Engagement.

Workplace by Facebook