How can using Facebook at Work turn a Brewery firm into a connected and communicative workforce?
You’re in the right place to find out. Sam Thomas is PR and Internal Comms Manager at Daniel Thwaites here in the UK.
She’s here to tell us how they are using the newest Enterprise Social Network (ESN) on the block, Workplace, to transform the way they communicate.
I’m republishing it as part of my advent series to countdown to Christmas which shares guest articles you may have missed during 2016.
New to Workplace?
Introducing Workplace by Facebook – published October 2016.
I’ll link to some case studies at the end too so you can get up to speed on what it is, who’s using it and what to be aware of.
This is going to be a long read, grab a cup of tea and I’ll hand you over to Sam to share her story…
How a Brewery uses Facebook at Work
Facebook at Work couldn’t have come at a better time for us at Daniel Thwaites.
We’re a family company with a collection of hotels, inns and pubs across the country and a brewery based in Blackburn.
We have just completed an audit of our internal communications and Facebook Groups was highlighted as a key channel being used by our teams.
Each of our inns and hotels had set up a group to keep staff updated with rotas, feedback and information updates – but it was all very location-based, so didn’t connect people across the country.
The gap has been bridged by Facebook at Work, our own private Facebook site, accessed only by people we choose.
Thanks to Facebook at Work, our new starters are getting a warm welcome from colleagues across the company.
Staff can see daily updates about the building of our new 54-bed lodge through 360 photos. Plus one of our bar managers has been getting advice for his herb garden.
Yes, it really has generated that kind of unprompted posts.
We’re only six weeks into turning on the platform, but we already have 59 groups, over 150 posts a week – and a name for our new Shire Horse through a FB competition.
How they communicate
The story behind our organisation is probably a familiar tale for anyone working in internal communications – our workforce is predominantly people who are not desk based, there are multiple locations and various shift patterns.
As a result most people have never met each other, they can’t be brought together at the same time but they want to feel part of our wider family.
There are plenty of channels that would help us fuse everyone together more but it seemed daft to try to introduce something completely new when so many of our employees already feel comfortable using Facebook.
The new business communications platform, which is still in beta, gave us the perfect opportunity to do this.
We have made it as simple as possible, setting up a couple of default groups for formal announcements and general sharing of good news.
We’ve uploaded our approved list of email addresses. Briefed key staff at each location. Switched it on. And waited for the reaction.
Whilst stats show a positive start, the nature of the groups, updates posted and interaction have shown pride, passion and enthusiasm of our staff.
Some of the great things we’ve seen happen in the last six weeks are:
- Staff giving an insight into their roles, including our night porters creating some fantastic time-lapse videos as they set up conference rooms;
- People sharing good ideas that are helping give added value to our customers, including one hotel that has created a new glam room for brides;
- A step challenge drawing in people around different hotels to see who does the most steps during the course of a single shift;
- A bar manager setting up a group dedicated to his new bar herb garden with staff offering suggestions;
- And a competition to name our new Shire Horse that led to nearly 100 suggestions.
But what advantages has it had for the business?
The easy set up and limited need for training has helped save time – with Facebook being such a key part of so many people’s personal lives, we already have ready-made evangelists and trainers.
As a result, we have been able to switch it on and start getting immediate use.
It’s broken down barriers through updates being more personal and showing personality – and that’s not just between our sites but also between different teams and even between senior managers and operational staff.
People can choose how and when they access it – via their desktop or an app and it automatically translates posts into an individual’s language of choice.
This is giving people more flexibility and is helping to separate the ‘nice to know’ stuff on Facebook from the more formal ‘need to know’ stuff on email or team meetings.
There are other neat features such as video chat and sharing screens that are useful – and we have been awaiting the introduction of Facebook Live into the platform that will offer new possibilities to us and launched last week.
Facebook at Work is not widely available yet but surely when it is, it will be the catalyst for debate over the future of intranets.
Post author: Sam Thomas.
What do you think? Could Workplace suit your company? Are you using it at the moment?
As ever, you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
I expect to see more companies embracing it over time and think the employee-generated ideas Sam mentioned are fantastic.
Further reading about Workplace
Facebook has published a whitepaper called Security at work, which is worth checking out.
Companies who are using it include:
- Caldwell Banker: ““It’s become our virtual water cooler in some instances.”
- Heineken: “It’s very intuitive and people are already very familiar with how to use Facebook. No special instructions required.”
- Landmark Group
- My Little Paris
- Royal Bank of Scotland: “Facebook at Work lets our staff communicate, discuss and solve problems faster and more efficiently in a way that tools, such as email, simply can’t.”
- Weber Shandwick
All Things IC blog: All you need to know about Facebook at Work
Ketchum blog: How Facebook at Work is changing the workplace.
FleishmanHillard blog: Facebook at Work – Future or Failure?
I’ve also started a Pinterest board collating images, articles and ideas about Facebook at Work.
What’s missing? Do let me know what you’ve read or heard.
Pics: Courtesy of Daniel Thwaites Plc.
First published on the All Things IC blog 5 September 2016. Republished 5 December 2016.