We’ve worked on a number of office design projects with clients in the media and creative industry, including ITV, Sequence and S3 Advertising. Like so many businesses in today’s interconnected world, collaboration between staff members is vital for sharing ideas and sparking creativity. With technology advancing day by day, the tools that are available to help staff do this are many and varied. We can now add another to the ever-growing list; Workplace by Facebook.

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Like many businesses, we employ the services of a digital marketing agency, upriseVSI, to boost our online presence. So we thought we’d ask their social media executive, Rachael Holder, to give us her thoughts on Workplace and some of the other so-called enterprise social networks or office chat apps that have started to appear.

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After this month’s announcement, business owners may have to change their opinions about their staff spending time on Facebook. Workplace is set to, in their words, change the way we work.

The concept isn’t anything new, social networking apps designed specifically for the workplace already exist. A Huffington Post article from 2015 looked at seven that were available at the time, but since then plenty more have become available.

At upriseVSI, we use Slack to chat, share ideas and collaborate with members of staff who aren’t based in the same office. But what are the benefits? And should you consider using one in your business?

Workplace in the workplace

Let’s take a look at the newest app on the block, Workplace by Facebook. Their staff have actually been using this app within the business for a number of years. Over a year ago, they tested a version on a few select organisations and now more than 1,000 businesses use it. As of last month, anyone can now use it.

As with all of these apps, the intention with Workplace is to encourage communication and collaboration within the shifting landscape of work. With many people spending a large portion of the day moving between different spaces within one workplace or on the road between different sites, keeping in touch with colleagues is vital.

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While we all have phones in our pockets which are essentially mini-computers with access to email, sometimes you may just need a quick and easy method of sharing company-wide updates, general information, data or folders with your colleagues. This need for simplicity and speed has been the reason for apps like Workplace.

One of the major advantages of Workplace is the fact that it duplicates features instantly recognisable to anyone who has used Facebook before. As well as the news feed, reaction icons and groups, they’ve added features specific to the needs of a business, including a dashboard of analytics that can integrate with a company’s existing IT systems. It also allows employees from different organisations to work together, extending collaboration beyond the business.

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People are already looking at the pros and cons of this social network giant moving into the business world. One very pertinent question being, when you use Workplace or any of these apps, are you working or just talking about working? Plus, there’s a payment involved, so it’s worth shopping around to see which one is right for your business.

Are you a Slacker, Yammerer or Hipchatter?

As I mentioned, here at upriseVSI we use Slack. But there are plenty of other options out there. Microsoft’s version is called Yammer and Hipchat is also a popular choice.

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We’ve created Slack channels for each of the departments in the business. This allows us to share information, updates and market trends to the most relevant people. Our random and funny channels also prove popular, to the point where we even write a blog about the weird and wonderful things that we find online! While we’re a relatively small business in terms of headcount, we’re currently split between two offices. Slack has helped to build relationships between staff members who don’t physically interact very often.

Slack works for us but every business will have its own preference. Crew, a global community of designers and developers based in Montreal, decided that they wanted to stop using their current app, Hipchat, and test out Slack. They put together this in-depth analysis of what they thought.

You may use your next office fit out as an opportunity to improve collaboration in your workplace, creating a mixture of informal meeting spaces. Or you might decide to use one of these enterprise social network apps to accomplish the same thing. Either way, you can’t deny the importance of encouraging staff to get together, whether physically or digitally.

Written by Rachael Holder, Social Media Executive at upriseVSI

Images from Facebook and Slack