• Olli Junnila

What I Learned from a Large Scale Workplace by Facebook Rollout?


Photo via Good Free Photos

There’s basically three ways of rolling out a Workplace in an organisation.

  1. Just start using it in some part of the organisation and expand organically

  2. Make a controlled launch

  3. Make an "uncontrolled" launch

The beauty is, that all of these can work, it’s just a matter of organisational culture and structures. If you are running a control based organisation that has strict processes and MVP, fail fast, kanban are not in the vocabulary, then you’re left with choice 1 and 2. Corporations who have adopted a culture where new things are tested and best tools and practices are easily adopted – you should head for options 1 or 3. I will focus on option 2 in this article, since this is the most difficult one and also Facebook provides excellent material and quidance on optons 1 and 3.


So you have an organization with a lot of red tape and you need to have a buy-in from most of the senior executives? You need to go through the steps of waterfall project management and IT acts as a gate keeper with a lot of power. Well quess what, you’re not alone.


What I learned you need to do before you can really embark on this journey:


  1. Find a respected and active business sponsor, who is willing to put their name and reputation behind this. In large corporations generally good places for ownership are in Communications and HR.

  2. Ensure a clear decision making chain, which can not be attacked from any direction. An indisputable decision making chain helps you prepare for possible disputes before they actually escalate into problems. It also provides a clear influencer map of your organisation – the parties you should give extra attention to.

  3. Make sure you have a steering group that has your back covered in all situations. If you have a choice, try to attract forward looking individuals into the steering group rather than individuals with their handbrake on.

  4. Go through all the other solutions used for internal communications and position these products. Try not to cause too much turmoil, since there are a lot of drivers supporting different tools. Just make sure that; ”Workplace is the corporation wide channel for internal communications and chat. It will be provided to everyone. Your team can use other tools that they see fit for the purpose, but you can’t demand other teams to use your tools.” For some people this may seem like a vague positioning, but the most important decision here is to get Workplace for everyone. People will tend to convert into Workplace naturally and no one wants duplicate systems. You can reposition after a year, when everyone is onboard.

  5. Try to get Workplace implemented before you need to renew your existing intranet. This way introducing Workplace doesn’t compete with your portal and the ”buy-in” is easier. If you introduce Workplace and your new intranet portal in one go, you end up replacing something familiar with something that might be hard to understand before you start using it. Again, the key point is to get Workplace to everyone and you’ll be surprised how well it is adopted. This approach alleviates the expectations for your next intranet portal, since everyone is already accustomed to Workplace.

  6. Investigate which organisational units are the most crucial ones to please and which are ones that need to be heard. Make sure the top priority is on the units that have been identified in your decision making chain. You can’t please everyone.

  7. Make sure the data protection officers of the organisation are ok with Workplace and especially in Europe make sure you have clear answers to questions arising from GDPR. It’s easier to be prepared and communicate in advance rather than reacting every now and then.

  8. Before you provide the system to any number of business units, have it integrated into the most essential background systems – mainly Active Directory. It is so much easier to have this done when you have only your project team or maybe 20-50 users max, than when you have thousands. No matter how well you communicate that they are on a trial or pilot system, people fall in love with Workplace and it’s a disaster if you have to go offline for a few days or weeks.

  9. 9.    Have your back covered. Different organisational units have different agendas and priorities. Figure out what you require and from where well in advance, so that no one can stop or slow you down just before you roll-out or even worse in the middle of your roll-out process. Say you need to create new users into your background systems before people are able to start using Workplace, can you have this done before hand? Are there firewalls, whitelisting, mobile app management issues, etc. to be taken care of, do them in advance.

  10. 10. Communicate!!! Have a monthly info session. Walk through all the different management groups and formal gatherings regularly. Have a dedicated person from the communications department to take responsibility of the communications plan. Have a program manager who’s good at convincing and knows how to communicate with different layers of the organisation. The message to group management team must be presented in a totally different manner than when you talk with say a store manager or IT specialists.

  11. Promote a Workplace evangelist. Someone who is in love with Workplace, knows it inside out and acts like a growth hacker. Not a preacher but just someone who naturally inspires people by being so pumped up about Workplace – It catches on.

These were the most crucial lessons I learned from an implementation to an organisation with tens of thousands of employees. But remember to get to know how your organisation works as a whole, and adjust accordingly. If your organisation is ready for models 1 or 3 – go for it! And here’s a bonus:


Make sure you have fun while doing this. Build your team so that you can openly tell about the good and bad things encountered. Everyone supports each other and there’s nothing you can’t laugh about. You are the ambassadors of Workplace in your organisation and you set the mood for the entire service. Smile, energy and politeness get’s you a long way.


Please feel free to comment or connect if you need any assistance – love to help!

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