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Facebook's Workplace launches, NBN Co first to adopt

Facebook's Workplace launches, NBN Co first to adopt

Social media platform takes on enterprise market, with NBN Co its first big Aussie customer

NBN Co claims it has become the first Australian corporate to roll out Facebook’s new enterprise offering, Workplace.

NBN had been running a beta trial of the product since July and currently 90 per cent of employees and contractors are using the platform. It is one of more than 1,000 companies globally that tested Workplace ahead of its launch today.

Workplace incorporates all the familiar functionality and features of Facebook – save for all the adverts and privacy concerns – and is now publicly available to any organisation as the social network sets its sights on the enterprise market.

NBN initially ran a 100 person beta trial in June which was extended by invitation to the rest of business. Within hours more than 3,000 of the broadband network builders’ 6,000 plus employees and contractors were signed up to the platform.

"Getting people to sign up was easy,” said Karina Keisler, NBN executive general manager of corporate affairs. “The next challenge is keeping them, but the content has proven relevant and rich and the numbers continue to prove the platform is hitting the mark with 84 per cent of the team actively using Workplace each month.”

During the first six months of use, NBN said it had been able to test the various Workplace functions with real-time activities including the launch of the Sky Muster II satellite last week.

Work Chat, Workplace’s instant messaging function, was used to communication between French Guiana, San Francisco and across Australia when news of a potential delay came through. Regular reports from weather balloon testing were delivered in real time and enabled the company to shift the media conference and launch activity.

"When the launch happened a day later Workplace's live video function lit up the newsfeed with experiences across the company,” Keisler said. “There were 1,400 posts, 1,700 comments and 8,400 reactions from across the business, and across the world, that would not have happened via email. We all shared the spoils of our employee space bake off, watched the launch and shared in the celebration. It was truly incredible.”

Keisler added that employees at the NBN’s call centre on the Gold Coast had also “embraced the platform”.

"Not only are they avid users within their own groups but the rest of the company is getting to know the team at the forefront of customer issues and assisting with real time answers to questions that might have taken days to answer,” she said.

It is also hoped Workplace will help NBN maintain its improved employee engagement score which has significantly increased in recent years.

"Our engagement survey results pointed to communication and collaboration as key drivers of engagement so we tested a range of platforms to meet the needs of our people,” Keisler said.

"It's early days and there's work to ensure Workplace remains a productive tool but there is no question it is helping us reduce emails, connect with colleagues, learn more about our business and share our wins and challenges with each other."

No accidental likes

Workplace has spent around 20-months in beta, the most notable improvement being a stronger separation between Workplace and Facebook's consumer service.

Users will have to use Workplace and Facebook's consumer service in different browser tabs – they cannot toggle between personal and work accounts in the same tab – with separate sign-ins.

Workplace has all of the same basic features of Facebook, including News Feed, live video, reactions, groups, search and trending posts, in addition to exclusive corporate features, such as a dashboard with analytics and access to identity providers that enable companies to integrate Workplace with existing IT systems, according to Facebook.

Today it also introduced multi-company groups to give businesses the ability to collaborate with fellow Workplace users employed by different organisations.

The enterprise platform is offered free for the first three months, and then Facebook will charge a range of monthly prices, per active user: US$3 each for up to 1,000 users, US$2 for up to 10,000 users and US$1 each for enterprises with more than 10,000 users.

In comparison, the popular collaboration service Slack, now a Workplace rival, offers a free app with limited features, and it currently charges US$15 per month per active user for its premium offering.

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