As Facebook’s enterprise offering Workplace enters it’s second year there is no doubt it has staked its claim in the enterprise game. Counting big players like Walmart, Starbucks, and Oxfam as customers it shares its core mission with stable-mate commercial Facebook.
“To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”
Translated for enterprise we’re talking about connecting your workforce and bridging geographical gaps. There is no doubt that in a playing field where competitors such as Microsoft Yammer and Salesforce Chatter long based their product marketing on its resemblance to ‘Facebook’ for work, that Workplace easily establishes its self as best in class. The question remains though – can it take the place of your organisation’s intranet?
In a like for like comparison, Workplace doesn’t offer all of the standard functions you might expect. There is a raft of research out there telling us that employees see intranets as a hub, a place you go primarily to then reach somewhere else. Whether that’s an employee directory, a link to a benefits site, or a people management portal. They typically expect to see companywide messages and news and probably visit a few times a week or when they specifically need something.
Intranet solutions are evolving, they are becoming more dynamic and they are attempting to introduce social elements that may help on the road to improved collaboration. The challenge when deciding on your digital workplace strategy is that all of these products tend to be grouped together and often referred to as Enterprise Social Networks or ESN’s. That gives us the impression that they are easily interchangeable and while they can deliver some of the same functionality their primary purpose is often fundamentally different. Investing in something which ‘can also’ do what you need will seldom deliver the results of something that has goals and objectives that match your own. So rather than which product to choose figuring out those goals and objectives is the critical first step.
We get the best answers by asking the best questions and will Workplace replace my intranet isn’t one of them! Instead, ask yourself:
What do I want to achieve? – is it higher employee engagement scores, a more effective communications strategy, a more connected workplace, or something else? Strip back the layers till you get to the problems then ask yourself…
What is it about my current set up/intranet that stops me achieving this? – is it void of social interaction? Is it static and feels out of date quickly? Has it just become a home for links to elsewhere? Or again is it something else…
What really needs to be in my intranet? HR policies and procedures? A directory of employees? Links to external sites people may need? Company-wide news? Your share price? What’s that critical stuff your people want to be able to readily access?
Now ask yourself why those would live in an intranet? Keep drilling and you might find a list of critical items and really great reasons why they should reside in an intranet or the answer might be because there is just no-where else.
Workplace by Facebook have talked about the 5 most common intranet problems and how to solve them this is well worth a read.
We’d suggest throwing out your pre-conceptions on what an intranet is and does, focus in on what your people really need and want, do they need to see those share prices every day? how much personalisation do people really want? are you at risk of over-complicating?
And after all this, the BIG question we need to ask is do I need an intranet at all?
For me there are two ways to look at this:
If the answers to your questions tell you that you have good reasons to have an intranet, perhaps you’re a complex organization who needs that more static hub of announcements, links, documents, and consistency, then bring the power of Workplace in.
Integrating an intranet solution with Workplace can give you that ultimate social element that keeps your people building networks, sharing knowledge and most importantly coming back. Sometimes the answer actually is better together!
And if your answers tell you that access to documents, forms and links come second to your desire to improve engagement, build community and revolutionise your communications. then yes Workplace can replace that intranet.
In this scenario, Workplace becomes your ‘hub’ it’s where your people are and how you reach them. With simple integrations and bots, you don’t have to compromise on things like document management and workflows either.
The answer is there is no black or white, yes or no, right or wrong. We use our experience to help organisations make these choices every day.