An introduction to Facebook Workplace
First, you may be wondering, why is a Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint and Yammer Partner reviewing Facebook Workplace?
You would be right. However, in our quest to continually be the best, we always look at what is available in the market. Can other products help us succeed with our mission: to change the way the world works?
We are big advocates of Yammer and have successfully deployed and helped organisations achieve high adoption rates of the enterprise social network, with goal of helping them be more responsive, work closer together and realise the benefits of high employee engagement. We normally roll out Yammer as part of our Office 365 projects and a few example clients we have helped are Canon, William Hill, Sotheby’s, Murphy, Conde Nast and Sony.
So, in this first post I will provide an overview of Facebook Workplace and in subsequent posts, I will look at the productivity and security aspects Workplace, other products you may require to complete the solution and ultimately the cost/value that the overall solution provides for a productive enterprise.
(References to other products will mainly be from Microsoft as I am most familiar with them.)
How did I assess Facebook Workplace?
At Content and Code, we continually review products that enable enterprise productivity and so in the beta release, we rolled out Facebook Workplace internally. We configured Single-Sign-On with Azure AD and opened the system up to internal staff as well as testing how well we could collaborate with partners using the platform.
The URL provided to you by Facebook will be ‘company.facebook.com’ and by using Azure AD we were able to auto import all our staff into the environment and allow them to log on with their normal Microsoft credentials.
So what is Facebook Workplace?
Workplace is a corporate social network, very much like Yammer. It is designed for rapid lightweight communication, that brings teams and groups together, helping employees ‘work out loud’ and ‘work in natural networks’.
Workplace essentially looks and feels very similar to the consumer Facebook. There are familiar elements such as the Newsfeed, Groups and Chat. There is also the functionality for voice and video calling and in addition, there are two apps that run-on iOS (Apple) and Android.
The Newsfeed gathers conversations from all your subscribed groups, as well as groups you are not, to give you a targeted view of what is going on in the organisation. This is an easy way to view and respond to posts regardless of what group they are in. Unlike the consumer version of Facebook, one good thing to note here is that there are no adverts as you are paying for the service.
Groups are a way to invite a group of people, co-workers, to participate in conversations around a given topic or project. For example, you could have a specific department or team group, a fitness group, or a social group for weekend adventures.
There a few ways in which Groups can be set up within Facebook Workplace. Groups can be set to be open: anyone can join in the discussion and view the content; private: only the invited people can join the group; or secret: where the group is not visible in search results and only those invited can find it.
Another useful feature is that Groups can be multi-company too, therefore you can invite external users to join the conversation.
Workplace Profile pages
As with the consumer version of Facebook, every employee has a profile page within Workplace that shows their latest posts, most recent activity and displays their contact information. You can also follow other people within your organisation to ensure their posts show up in your feed.
It is important to note that this profile page is completely separate from your personal Facebook profile and no information is shared between them whatsoever. However, in our own use it was fairly easy for users to get mistaken between logging onto Facebook consumer and Facebook Workplace. (Which is of course where even those with the most productive of intentions can easily stray into the wilderness of the Facebook feed…)
How do the profile pages’ work? Well, standard directory information is imported and controlled by the system administrator, and includes key information such as name and department, although each employee can add their own photo, hobbies, interests, etc. to their profiles.
This simple chat feature is available to have instant message conversations with other staff who are online. You can share files and move the conversation from instant message to a video call. You can have multiple people in the instant message conversation although video calling is only one to one, so wouldn’t work for meetings unless all attendees were all in the two locations.
There is a simple events feature within Workplace that allows easy set-up of an events page, where you can invite colleagues to an event and they can indicate whether they will attend or not. Conversations around events can happen in the feed to allow you to generate ideas, suggest agendas and continue the conversation after the event finishes.
Workplace Mobile Apps
There are two mobile apps: Workplace and Workchat, which are both available on iOS (Apple) and Android. The apps mirror the web functionality and are very much like the consumer Facebook apps. Both apps are polished and work well on mobile, providing the majority of the functionality of their web based counterparts.
In the next post, I will delve deeper into the features of Workplace and discuss my views on how you could use Facebook Workplace within an organisation , including other complementary solutions you would need to be a productive enterprise.
Embrace modern ways of working with an enterprise social network
If you are thinking about enterprise social networks for your workplace, sign up for our free morning event as we take a comparative look at Workplace by Facebook and Office 365 Enterprise.
About our author
CEO and Founder
Tim is the CEO of Content and Code and founded the company in 2001. As CEO of Content and Code, Tim focuses on corporate strategy, client and partner relationships, and has overall responsibility for driving the growth of the company. Tim founded Content and Code so he could help transform organisations to be more responsive, more competitive and engage their employees to better realise business goals.
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