There are many factors that contribute to getting your company’s “road warriors” to download and join the company Workplace network. The confluence of field worker interest, circumstance, and technology often requires a personal (not digital) touch from a manager or co-worker to get that first log-in to happen. In the past year, I have experienced and sought every one of these opportunities with multiple Workplace customers. I’ve been in awe at how drastically different one company’s culture is from another’s and how culture exerts its power through behaviors on groups of people bound together as a company.
Here are 8 opportunities to seek when launching Workplace by Facebook to remote workers:
Close the remote worker/headquarters divide. Close the divide between your headquarters and your people in the field by letting them share their contributions in Workplace. A recognition campaign, a regional challenge, or even a tweak to the famous Ice Bucket challenge could be that one hook they can’t resist. The will appreciate the spotlight of gratitude or the friendly competitive challenge. When your company leaders read, reply, and dialog with them, they will earn credibility for listening, connecting, and responding. For many companies, interactions of this nature have never happened before because communication was in email or newsletter form.
The empathetic executive. Find the member of the C-suite who wants to invest in employee well-being and satisfaction (hint: this is not always the CHRO!). Showing empathy for what field employees may be going through shows willingness to dive into any area of the business. Workplace is a great place for leaders to express, “I’m thinking about your experience right now.” And using Workplace leaders can trade places for a day with someone in the field, rediscover their own career roots, or build appreciation for how every role in the company contributes to success. Workplace is an ideal tool for leaders willing to walk the walk, be vulnerable, and learn publicly from the front lines by crossing traditional corporate boundaries of job role, authority, and hierarchy.
The middle manager touch. Making Workplace a key initiative in the minds of your middle managers is important because they embody the “authority” most relevant to field workers. Communications from corporate leaders may not feel worthy to field workers. Many companies have a deep, historic sense of “us vs. them.” Ask your middle managers to prioritize checking-in to Workplace and look for other connection and communication rituals to move into regular use of the platform. Design your “why Workplace” story so it’s relevant to the daily challenges or directives middle managers are living.
Blend your uses of Workplace to match the blend of your people. Businesses are powered by humans. Not all the value we create can be accounted for via numerical and metric ROI models. How we feel at work also affects our work. Field workers are road warriors who often start and end their day before the sun rises or sets. Whether someone is sharing technical tips or just celebrating life/work wins, businesses must have spaces where both recreational and functional content exist. Without some presence of both, we lose what is vital and human. Long days and life on the road can also create isolation. Workplace transmits that humanity to help keep someone on the road in tune with what’s important and with positive motivations to inspire a job done with care.
Create multiple types of hooks. Your road warriors may be drawn by the fun they see others having in Workplace or, they may be drawn by the functional uses they see related to their jobs. Be fully prepared to deliver engagement for either mode—people will choose which kinds of interaction is most meaningful to them. I’ve observed that as peers join, even the most reluctant, social media disliker cannot resist the feeling that they might be missing out. We all want to be acknowledged and thanked—even those of us with strict work/play boundaries. A well-organized Workplace offers both types of engagement.
Grassroots-originated ideas and gain. Take one customer’s insight or one worker’s invaluable field experience digital and it might “catch fire” (in a good way) across other parts of your company. Road warriors sharing their front-line experiences in Workplace will get the feedback of having everyone learn from their contributions. With advocates and champions on the inside to help target and amplify, field workers will experience the value they’ve created for others. This is powerful.
Leverage identities. In many companies ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are natural points of shared connection. ERGs often have events in succession and national or international companies often welcome workers virtually being drawn together by past or current interests and identities. Find common profiles among your field workers and talk with your talent recruiters about where they find the best employees. Do you have a high population of ex-military people or does your company have ERGs focused on a more diverse workforce?
Think outside your walls. Companies that act and engage in the physical communities where they do business have a distinct advantage. Caring about regional communities, local non-profits, and the lives of your employees is a deep commitment. Beyond the increasing frequency of natural disasters or tragic events, companies that prioritize a caring and an externally-focused mindset (even in times of relative peace and prosperity) are already creating a climate that field workers can connect with. They see the company caring about the part of the world where they work—outside its walls. Workplace embodies a channel where that connection and accountability become tangible, both locally and to everyone at your company.
Remote workers are not that different than others in your company but getting their attention may be in competition with the circumstance of their jobs. Plan for this population to adopt more slowly and to have some resistance to the value of using a social technology. If attitudes toward continuous improvement and change are already part of your company’s values or are being furthered by other initiatives, you will find fertile ground in which to seed slow, steady gains in adoption.