Release the chat

"Do not fear Workplace. With a good strategy, you can obtain great value creation on the provision of knowledge and access to colleagues through online group discussions" says Mari Sophie F. Hveem in Styrmand.

Group discussions are one of the reasons why social media has taken off. They make it easier to organise activities and to keep each other up to date. But even though the majority of Norwegians use Facebook and similar social networking tools for chat and swift discussions privately, few businesses have gained the same value creation with suitable tools for internal communications tailored to the business. Internal communications are still hampered by time-consuming email threads and inactive intranets.

Mari Sophie F. Hveem

"With tools like Workplace, you meet your employees with an interface they are used to and where usefulness feels real really fast" says Mari Sophie. She is a consultant and project manager for implementing Workplace at several large public and private entities.


This type of web-based internal communication tool, where you can interact, chat and share information is technically easy to implement, but also a powerful tool. The important reason is just interaction. "It's as simple as knowledge sharing, a more efficient everyday life because you get faster response to what you're wondering and improved workflows - especially with colleagues who are not in the same place as you. Often it can be cumbersome to send items by e-mail. It will also be very formal. It's not all content that is appropriate there" says Mari Sophie. "It is much easier to find people in Workplace than in clumsy employee records. And it's easy to ask for expertise. From there you can refer to information on the intranet or in a Sharepoint solution, for example - you gather things much better”, says Mari Sophie. - In in-depth interviews I've been running, I hear that the professional forums created across units are the most useful. Together with groups for projects and discrete teams, they create the largest value for most employees. Workplace also works if you want to share something of a lesser job-related nature; If you have spare tickets, you would not want to send an email to all employees" she says. At the same time, Facebook is such a familiar and intuitive tool that the training needs are minimal, and she adds that this is why she recommends Facebook's tools rather than other tools.

Opposing forces

It is especially a counter-motive that slows development, and that is a general scepticism about US net companies and their data security. "Many fear the regulations of American companies and to lose control of the information, but all this is manageable with a good contract and implementation strategy" Hveem said. - You have ownership of the data. Facebook can not easily extract them. But yes, you place a lot of data with someone, says Hveem. She says that you can safely take out value from the solution simply by incorporating clear rules for use. - You choose what you put in. As an employer, you can also set restrictions on what can and can’t be shared, and not least set up clear driving rules" she says. "For example, it should not be used for case processing, including not sharing sensitive information. It is important to have a thorough review of the risk factors and to get buy-in for driving rules for use. Consciousness of the users is the most important thing we are working on. It does not help to technically have a 100 percent secure system. There are people who will use it, and then there will always be a risk. But it removes the need for the creation and use of job-related groups on private Facebook - something that happens in most businesses. It may flourish with such groups, and in that scenario, it is Facebook that owns all the data. As long as you pay for it, you own all the data that is shared in Workplace.

Up close with the phone

The biggest challenges for the company are far more fundamental, she believes. With a tool like Workplace, many businesses get their first truly effective communication channel on the phone. It provides better possibilities for updating for workgroups that do not have their workplace in front of a PC monitor. Being able to access discussions and information through the best suited channel, whether it's PC, tablet or mobile, also allows you to update and participate when appropriate. This challenges the employee's disposal of time in a new way. "Critics believe it gives noise and much irrelevant information. Others believe you are becoming available all the time, says Mari Sophie. People who are on sick leave or other leave also say they appreciate having the opportunity to follow updates and that it makes it easier to get back into the flow of work. Moreover, research shows that those who feel closeness to their work and they are seen by the boss have a lower risk of sick leave than others, she says. "We have had close dialogue with health and safety representatives and unions. We thought these groups might be sceptical and consider this to be limit-setting for the employees. But the feedback is that they are also positive about this, both as culture-building and disease-prevention. The good accessibility with better integration of all employees can on the contrary be a major challenge for more conservative leaders, Mari Sophie has experienced. - As an employee, you get a voice similar to others in your company. It becomes harder to be an authoritarian leader when discussions run free. Leaders who wish the tool welcome say they feel it is easier to be available to all employees and that they get better time to actually lead.

Organisational change, not implementation

Experience shows that a lot of today's internal communication solutions have a bad effect. Newsletter is opened and read by too few and intranet is rarely visited. Sharepoint and the like have poor discussion options. Workplace is easily taken care of through an app on the mobile phone or an address in the browser. Only implementation is downloading of an app, user registration and group setup. In addition, in some larger companies, it should be ensured that only employees who work in the company should have access to the tool through integration with an employee register, such as HR systems. Many have also set up integration with Office 365 or Sharepoint. "It is important to focus on change management. Although easy to implement, you need to have a strategy and clear objectives for use“, says Mari Sophie, who has a background in HR, information security and has worked with change management in large and smaller companies for many years. The company may have e-mail and an intranet or document management system. Then, a dialogue-based information channel is also available internally. It needs to be clarified which channels should be used for which messages, and one must work with the managers to get this integrated so that everyone knows how to work, where to go and whom can assist. - Management buy-in is absolutely crucial. Start at the top level and make them comfortable on the strategies and channels, so it can drop down in the organisation. In addition, you must have some ambassadors who talk up the solution. These are classic steps from change management”, she says. The information work ensures the company's data. People must understand what solution they use and who owns the data. As mentioned earlier, essentially two things are to be avoided - and it is case processing or archival content and sensitive information. For a HR group, it means that they teach everyone to understand the difference between "I have pneumonia, how do I go for sick leave" versus "where do I go to find guidelines for sick leave?". Did you understand the difference? The first sentence contains information that should not be broadcast. - A clear hierarchy of management, moderation and good training provides a lot of information security. Rolluts can be successfully done successively. A pilot Mari Sophie has been working with used two months to roll out to 3 500 employees to ensure everyone got the information they needed. The first month was focussed on managers and super users, the second month we focused on the "regular" employees.

Worse if you do not do anything

In addition to the objectives of knowledge sharing, collaboration and culturebuilding, many also have a fourth, which is to overcome the shadow IT systems. Mari Sophie ends with warning against waiting and says most companies will find that employees are already "sneaking themselves" to using similar functionality by using services such as Dropbox, Google Platform, Slideshare, Filezilla, or private Facebook accounts. This leads to the company having IT solutions that are not secured. - Employees expect this functionality, because they already use it privately. If you use Workplace, you have more right of determination and control than if your employees utilise private Facebook accounts. You can choose who uses it and how it is used.


  • Technical introduction and training is uncomplicated given a good implementation strategy
  • Users must be aware of the values of this type of tool: Knowledge sharing, interaction, efficiency and culture. The business's driving rules are followed up with training, motivation and constructive moderation of content
  • Data security can be safeguarded, provided a good implementation strategy, and some adaptation of contractual terms
  • Integration with authentication solutions, other information sources and email is manageable
  • Ombudsmen and skeptics will see the value of the tool given a good implementation strategy
  • This is change management. What will we achieve? What happens if you do not do anything?