How one charity engages staff with Facebook’s Workplace

Plan International is using a new platform to highlight their work around the world, bringing staff together and helping them feel proud of what they’ve achieved collectively.

Chloe Green | 24th Oct 18
Image credit: Plan International

As one of the world’s largest global non-government organisations, Plan International’s staff work in more than 70 countries to protect and support the world’s most vulnerable children, tackling issues ranging from child marriage and girls’ education to sexual health and helping children during emergencies.

One of its biggest initiatives lands on 11 October, the International Day of the Girl – a UN day to recognise girls’ rights and the unique barriers that girls around the world face. For Plan International, this year saw the launch of its new global campaign, Girls Get Equal.

The launch was marked by a day of global action where girls stood up for equality by taking over more than 1,000 positions of power and influence, from the Prime Minister of Spain to local village chiefs in Timor-Leste, making their voices heard through the hashtag #GirlsTakeover.

But for such a wide-reaching charitable organisation, it can be a challenge to keep staff aware and engaged with all work being done by different teams around the world. The charity’s old SharePoint-based intranet works well for knowledge-management, but it was not designed for sharing high quality videos or photos quickly, and engagement was low.

Ben Roche, Plan International’s Head of Internal Communications and Engagement, led on the introduction of Workplace by Facebook – a business-focused collaboration tool by Facebook designed for organisations to share media and messages in a Facebook-like environment.

Image shows a screenshot from Plan International's 'International Day of the Girl' being shared by staff on Workplace.

“With Workplace we’ve managed to create an echo chamber for International Day of the Girl and allowed people to celebrate that internally,” says Roche. “We’ve had a phenomenal response with hundreds of posts and over 6,000 reactions and comments. October 11th was crazy busy but also very fun because we flooded the platform with content of girls taking over positions of power, with events happening in pretty much every country we operate in.”

“It’s really highlighted the fact that we are a global organisation that creates these amazing moments. Now staff can get a real sense of the scale of what they’ve achieved.”


Getting staff onboard

At the beginning of 2018, Plan International began to ask staff for requirements around a much-needed new collaboration platform, following which the tool was chosen and launched out to a network of ‘Workplace champions’ and early adopters making up around 10% of staff in July this year. In just over a month, the organisation then launched Workplace to 10,000 staff.

“Early adopters were quite vocal about the platform,” says Roche. “And one of the aces up our sleeve is strong leadership buy-in, particularly from our CEO AB Albrectsen. She’s just posted a live video from a trip to Malawi on Workplace and she’s always sharing what’s happening.”

The platform now has around 6,000 monthly active users in Plan International, or 60% of staff. Roche puts the high adoption rates down to its ease of use. One of the big benefits of Workplace is that it uses a very similar interface to Facebook- a platform that many people are already familiar with.

Image shows screenshot of Plan International Philippines staff launching the platform.

“That is one of the bonuses of using Workplace, but it requires a little bit of direction” says Roche. “Were staff to use Workplace in the same way as their personal Facebook they would skim the surface in terms of a lot of the functionality this engagement platform has, so there is a small degree of education involved in getting people up to speed with all the business-focused features. But it’s very easy to get people to understand- there is no thousand page documentation in size 7 font!”


Taking the features further

As Plan International moves beyond the adoption and into the consolidation and education phase of using Workplace, staff are starting to experiment with the full functionality of what the platform can do beyond catching up on organisational news.

This ranges from sharing meeting minutes in groups, to being able to communicate with teams across the world in their native languages using Workplace’s translation feature.

A feature called multi-company groups allows Plan International staff to talk to partner organisations in the same platform, without sharing any external data from the rest of the environment. This has proven invaluable for collaboration outside the organisation.

Roche has also set up integration with the organisation’s existing intranet and knowledge bank using the expertise of Azuronaut.

“We upgraded our intranet from our old SharePoint to SharePoint Online,” says Roche. “At the same time we’ve increased the usability of our homepage by completely redesigning it as one big billboard with all the information you need on the intranet, and all the latest news and engagement by Workplace. This allows you to see what’s going on at a global level and within your local group.”

Roche adds: “It’s quite easy in a global organisation with a dispersed workforce to feel isolated from each other. But with Workplace you get to talk to people you wouldn’t ordinarily, and just see what’s going on outside your own little world. I’ve found through using Workplace that my network has grown exponentially.”

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