Email Has a Workplace Contender

The writing was on the wall for some time: email is no longer good enough for today’s real-time, instantaneous, conversation-based communications.

Yet, like corporate memos a decade ago, emails persisted in ruling the communication lines. While the tool failed to drive conversations and engagement, it became entrenched in official communication lines that are used across the enterprise.

Grab, Razer and Tan Tock Seng Hospital had enough.

The Missing Link

These organizations are now deploying Facebook Workplace mobile app to drive enterprise communications. And they are doing it for a very simple reason: the promise of better collaboration.

“People spend the majority of their daily lives working, across many teams and time zones and as a result, today's workplaces are complex. We've all been in situations where we're drowning in emails, can't find the teammates we need and ultimately miss important updates. That's what Workplace solves,” said Luke McNeal, head of Workplace APAC. 

Workplace is essentially designed as a communication platform that helps companies collaborate better in a flatter structure. It takes a page from the consumer version of Facebook, making it familiar and pervasive. It also includes the latest features like news feed, Chat and Group, but is protected by enterprise security and privacy certifications.

“Businesses here want to create open and connected work cultures and empower their employees to participate and communicate easily. We're proud to partner with diverse companies in the region, from conglomerates to startups, as well as public sector organizations, to help their businesses grow and succeed,” said McNeal.

Connecting Thoughts

Grab is using Workplace Groups to connect teams in Singapore and the Southeast Asia region, while collecting feedback in real time. The company also runs polls on ideas and capture the results for decision making using the app.

Razer is using Workplace to connect different product teams and functions. The company sees it as instrumental to building a community and culture of sharing between teams.

“Right now, the team is using Workplace to bring colleagues together for company events and letting them know about upcoming product launches. It is also a popular tool with their executives to share updates across their entire workforce,” said McNeal.

At Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Workplace simplified communications and gave employees an easier platform to securely engage.

Previously, the hospital used email for communicating in and out of the hospital, while employees juggled a complex mix of shared folders, intranets and helpline numbers for their work.

Workplace's Groups feature streamlined the communications while simplifying housekeeping, sharing updates and reporting any issues. Employees can also share new practices, processes and standards, while running quizzes to ensure that the new information is well understood.  

“Today, more than 8,000 of their staff – from the health departments to specialists’ centers – are connected via Workplace. It is the first hospital in the world to abandon email for communications,” said McNeal.

Employee Talk

At the heart of Workplace’s promise is the idea of better employee engagement. Numerous studies show how employee engagement will drive better commitment and emotional investment from the workforce, elevating productivity.

“Agile and forward-thinking businesses understand that employee engagement is not only a topic that's important for HR, but it's becoming a critical business issue as well. Employee engagement, and ultimately talent retention, are important issues in order to succeed. This is compounded by the increasing presence of millennials —and soon Gen Z— in the workforce, who demand a seat at the table from their employers,” said McNeal.

It is also becoming a tool to engage millennials who are used to intuitive, mobile-first technology that is often chat based.

“They’re not only bringing their devices into the workplace, but they’re also bringing their expectations. Ultimately, this generation wants to be able to engage and interact with content in a way that feels familiar to them – through words, yes, but also through gifs, emojis and video,” said McNeal.

Workplace uses artificial intelligence to ensure the right information reaches the right eyeballs. For example, Workplace’s News Feed feature uses machine learning to keep users updated on relevant information, allowing them to find information or people within the organization easily.

“We want Workplace to be the place where work gets done,” said McNeal.

Closed vs. Open

So is email dead? Not for a long while. Rather it will be used for some forms of communication where collaboration is limited or not necessary.

“Email is still an appropriate form of communication to use and we're certainly not saying it is 'dead'. But it’s not very effective for collaboration – particularly for remote teams or when you need to make quick decisions. It's also closed by default,” said McNeal, noting that tools like Workplace are open. 

Luke McNeal
Luke McNeal, head of Workplace APAC believes communication and employee engagement have changed in the workplace, and emails are ill-suited.