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Workplace from Facebook: Creating Community in Troubled Times


People working and connecting online
Image: Vadim -
With the immediate technical issues surrounding WFH communication and collaboration requirements now in the rear-view mirror, many enterprises are shifting their focus to creating virtual spaces that enhance the employee experience. This idea took center stage this week at Transform, a community event for Workplace from Facebook.
During this Facebook-hosted event, representatives from different industries shared their experiences working with the platform, and how they've leveraged the platform to keep employees connected during the pandemic.
Catherine Simmons, senior manager of internal social media and internal channel strategy for Delta Airlines, described how COVID-19 has accelerated the company’s use of Workplace, which has been in place for about three years. Not only did Workplace provide a community setting for employees to engage with team members, but it also provided Delta leadership new means to communicate during the pandemic, Simmons said. For example, Delta’s CEO has been hosting Workplace live streams, during which employees are able to ask their questions and concerns, she added.
Rehabilitation and wheelchair technology company Numotion found similar benefits in Workplace, though it had only just begun using the platform when the pandemic hit, said Andrea Barnett, the company’s director of communications and media relations. Set to go live with the platform on March 1, Numotion had spent the early part of the year training about 125 employees to be Workplace champions and provide go-live support to users as they got acclimated to the platform, Barnett said. The implementation “couldn’t [have] come at a better time,” with Numotion going from having 3% of the workforce WFH to about 50% at the beginning of March, Barnett explained.
Like Delta, Numotion’s CEO has conducted weekly live streams via Workplace to share company updates and acknowledge workers' contributions. Additionally, Numotion assistive technology professionals created a Workplace group to share best practices on how to address customer mobility concerns. The replaced the slower and more disjointed email process in place previously, Barnett noted.
Sharing a perspective from the education industry, Eric Greenberg, senior director of marketing and operations, and Blair Mannix, director of admissions, discussed how Workplace helped on-board incoming students at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of business. Due to COVID-19, Wharton had to scrap its traditional Welcome Weekend for students, they said. In brainstorming possible virtual replacements, a team member suggested that Workplace might be a possible solution.
Once they decided on Workplace, the Wharton School team created “Wharton HQ” in Workplace, a closed community that provides a welcome message from Mannix and a place for current and prospective students to ask staff members questions and make connections, Greenberg said. Greenberg also mentioned that with many students being familiar with Facebook’s social media interface, the jump to Workplace was too big.
Looking to a predominantly WFH future, as these use cases show, IT professionals might now have to weigh not only a platform’s communications and collaboration capabilities, but also how its ability to foster a sense of community and support workforce culture.