Summary: Evaluating Facebook’s entry into the collaborative business platform market, Workplace by Facebook.
Workplace by Facebook is Facebook’s recent entry into the collaborative platform software market. It brought new focus from management on internal communication tools. Workplace by Facebook promises to:
While there are potential benefits to Workplace by Facebook, does it address the unique internal communication challenges your organization faces?
To be able to answer this question, you need a systematic way to understand how information flows within your organization, and where the inefficiencies are. As an example, here some different types of internal communication:
Each of these can be classified by three different dimensions:
|Memo to all staff||Formal||Top Down||Long-Lived|
|Suggestions & ideas||Formal or Informal||Bottom Up||Short-Lived|
A memo to all staff, such as announcing a policy change, is formal (sent through a managed communication channel), is top down (sent from management to all staff), and is long-lived (information sent remains valuable for a long period of time).
In contrast, a discussion, whether in a meeting or via email, is informal and is short-lived. Unless revisited, once a course of action has been chosen, the details of the discussion itself are no longer needed.
Suggestions and ideas from staff go up the chain, and depending on how they are managed, the channel can either be formal or informal. While many ideas and suggestions can spark new initiatives, ideas and suggestions are often short-lived, either because no action is taken, or because conditions change.
Collaborative platform software like Workplace by Facebook is best suited to address inefficiencies with informal, short-lived communication challenges. Here’s why:
A key tenant of any social platform is making it as easy as possible for any user to contribute content. A formal channel is the exact opposite of that: tightly controlling the flow of information. With Workplace by Facebook, you can create a group for formal communication (restricting access to who can publish), but other existing solutions already handle this well.
Long-lived information, such as policies and procedures must be stored in a permanent place, easily findable, and managed over time. Collaborative software platforms often lack these features: organizing information into folders, removal of out of date content, and ensuring only the latest version is returned in search.
An informal channel going from bottom up works, but due to information overload, can only go so far up the chain. While a manager or CEO would love to hear from all staff, due to time constraints, they rely on their subordinates to act as information filters, which requires a more formal channel.
So, what are the challenges of informal, short-lived communication that a collaborative software platform can help solve?
If your organization is seeing these symptoms or inefficiencies, Workplace by Facebook or another collaboration software platform has value for your organization.
However, if you’re main internal communication challenges are around formal channels (company news, authorizations and approvals) or involved long-lived information (policies, procedures, documentation) an intranet is a more suitable choice.
Note that there are often overlaps between an intranet platform and a collaborative software platform. In general, both solutions include company news, employee directory and discussion groups. Video conferencing and group chat are a unique strength for collaborative software platforms, while intranets have better document management features, online forms and workflows.