This is the third article in my series on our journey with Workplace from Meta. In these articles, I am covering my experiences as CEO of a globally distributed company using this platform to drive the present and future of our company. My heart has always been in learning and software adoption, and each time we adopt and embrace a new platform it is a great learning experience for me and I’m glad to be sharing this journey publicly in order to help others along the way.
Adopting most enterprise software is fairly routine; it requires the identification of key players that need to learn some technical or business concepts and then champion the rollout. Workplace is a little different in that it is much more transformational. In a short amount of time, we will look back at using Email and traditional intranets in the way that we look at using a fax machine now. Some will still exist, but we will have mostly moved on. So let’s get to it - in this article I want to talk about some patterns that I have discovered by using the platform.
So yeah, having four of the most popular non-apple, non-gaming apps on the App Store makes Facebook the undoubted leader in mobile app usage in the world today. "Several" of their apps have over a billion active users. It’s fair to say that almost everybody that has a smart phone has used or actively uses Facebook apps. So that means they should instantly be able to use them at work, right?
Well, yes and no.
Let me explain.
For the Yes side, the user interface in both the browser and mobile app environment is very similar to that of the consumer Facebook platform experience. It includes the features of posting, photos, reactions, newsfeed, polls and even live streaming (Live Streaming is a perfect way to conduct team meetings - more of my tips on running teams will come in a future article).
So here is the biggest difference.
The consumer Facebook is a social network (and remember that your user profiles in a Workplace instance are totally separate from your public consumer Facebook profile). It’s a place where I share photos with my family and friends, where I take pictures of the experiences in my life and how I connect to friends and family all around the world. I share my hobbies, my achievements and fun things like sporting events for my kids. I often reflect when posting that when I am no longer on this planet, my children and their children will have a lot of fun browsing through the history of my life - how I wish I could do that of my ancestors.
But back to it - I share cool stuff, many highs, some lows, memories and moments. My friends and Family like (and sometimes love) my posts. The more likes and reactions I get to my posts the cooler the post or the more connection to my family I have.
What we find is that when our colleagues post updates, share metrics, give input, share customer feedback or any other item within a working group, a “like” is an acknowledgement. If I bring it back to fundamental human interaction, if you did a post and I liked it, it would be akin to me looking you in the eye and acknowledging you and even thanking you in a non-glorious way. A great example of this internally for us is our finance team, that produces weekly reports. We like their posts to acknowledge the work they did to produce them.
Initially, this seemed odd. Why were some of our team members liking almost every single post and comment that was made - quickly we realized that it was a virtual way to nod our heads and acknowledge.
Interestingly, this happens more in smaller teams where collaboration is in tighter circles. For broadcast posts to everyone, we find that likes resemble more closely what they do in public/consumer Facebook.
It seems small and subtle, but once you get this concept, wow. You have a way to acknowledge your colleagues without words, without fluff and without hesitation.
Key point - Workplace isn’t the place for a CEO to automatically have every employee as a fan so that they can post pictures of their puppy dogs and expect every employee to “like" it. It's the place we communicate and align as a single, global team.
So we have a way to acknowledge without words, and we also have a way to share what we see without words: photos. Looking back, it seems crazy to me now - it was right in front of us for a decade. Around 2006, Facebook released Photos. Look at what happened with adoption as a result. Of course, there are many other factors - but Facebook has become the worlds largest photo sharing site since then.
In our system, we have groups for various social activities, but we also have some groups emerge for things like building maintenance. So when there is a leak in the sink in our Kuala Lumpur building, or we’re out of Milo in our Santiago office, we have a place to quickly get that information to the appropriate team members.
Our white-collar focused head offices have spent the past decade trying to realize the promise of enterprise workflow tools, forms and various other tools. I’m a big believer in "what gets measured gets done" - but I am also a believer in basic human communication and dignity. One of the most frustrating situations that many people have experienced has to be working with an internal IT department. For some reason, we seem to think that defining a standard practice called ITIL, means that every human emotion can be thrown out the door and having a simple conversation to solve a problem is no longer a viable solution.
How many times have you heard “go and log a ticket” as the answer to a problem that you’ve raised? And how did that make you feel? If you managed to create the ticket in your help desk you got an acknowledgement for the ticket, but chances are you didn’t have a conversation. And if you did, I bet it would surprise you and feel out of the ordinary. In fact, you then probably got a satisfaction survey in your email (because you of course want more email) so that you could fill in another form to let the ticket workflow owner obtain some data so that they could measure that people were happy and it would go into an NPS score.
Can you see something wrong above?
Our initial goal was to reduce friction, so we created a workflow, but that at times creates more inefficiencies. Sometimes, a simple human-centered interaction would be better/quicker using Workplace.
Would it be better to take a picture of your problem - a malfunctioning phone for example - and post it to the relevant group. A team member who owned that group would then respond with a quick “like” and then have the responsibility to fill in whatever forms they wanted to for their own team workflow to action a solution. Perhaps, they could respond with a ticket number to the post. But that ticket number would be like a receipt that I get for my burrito at lunch - unnecessary unless something was screwed up.
Hint: in the very near future, expect an Assistant, a Bot if you like, to perform these types of roles for your team - providing great service, giving you end user/customer acknowledgement and improving their esteem and translating that into the self-learning/improving back end automation and workflow.
Optimized workflows in the enterprise that present unwieldy forms to end users are friction. Now, don’t get me wrong here, we’re HUGE fans of JIRA - we’ve been using it for over a decade, but there is a balance and a line where “go and file a ticket” will no longer be an acceptable answer. I can easily see a layer of Bots assisting to provide a more human-friendly experience.
Technically yes, but will it encompass the whole workplace, or just the white collar workers disguised in t-shirts who sit at their desks all day (or their treadmill standing desks, drinking kombucha)? See my first article about this.
There is no other platform that brings all people in an organization together like Workplace. Other platforms like Box will connect their services into this platform. Read Aaron Levie’s excellent post - Welcoming Facebook to the Enterprise.
In my final example for this article, I want to share the case of on-boarding new team members to our organization. Our process to date has been fairly traditional. A new person starts, they get a welcome email that contains sign-in information to our Authentication Portal (we currently use Okta and it also nicely integrates into Workplace), then our new energetic team member is walked through many hours of system overviews, forms, and other exciting things. By the end of the first day, they are happy, but exhausted from trying to retain knowledge.
A nicer interaction to our workplace that we are now working on is - Welcome to our Workplace - here is our office space - and they are added to an on-boarding group in Workplace and they can walk the virtual hallways, chat and explore without being overloaded with information. They can even do this on their smart phone, and where appropriate we can even grant them access to some of it before they start their first day. We still keep all of our procedures and working documents in their respective systems - Box, Confluence or Google Docs. It’s a way to bring all of our communications about our goals, outcomes and together.
This is a key point - most enterprise collaboration tools out there focus on collaboration around a document or an artifact and treat the user as a player or an actor - you can see this by clicking on the user profiles in those systems.
What you get is an IT perspective of that person. In Workplace, you deal with humans first and have conversations with people, then help lead them to the right system to collaborate in.
Sure - we could design a great on-boarding flow with other technology, but we couldn’t welcome them the same way, as a team member, as a person to our team.
All of the points above are examples of acknowledgement and esteem inside of Workplace. By connecting people at the human level and helping them be empowered to share their ideas, and what they see, by treating everyone equal, from CEO through to the factory worker you are able to build a culture of acknowledgement and high esteem.
In my next article, I will share more patterns for how managers at all levels can use Workplace to interact with their teams.
Learn how Workplace from Meta can connect your team, empower collaboration and build a culture of acknowedgement.