Never heard of Workplace by Facebook? Read this article for a quick introduction: “CrossWorking, manage cross-company employees networks on Workplace.” The Crossworking idea is currently on hold as explained in Protoletter EN#1.
Workplace, a delegated, disindividualized “Facebook.”
The very first iteration of Facebook was exclusively available for Harvard students, who confirmed that they belonged with their @harvard.edu email. Communication features were not that impressive, but the unique opportunity to connect with other students of your university made it the instant hit it was. The school authority in charge of activating email addresses for students was de facto managing access to the community.
By breaking out of universities exclusivity, Facebook made it possible to become the major digital relationship fabric it is today. But personal profiles protection had to be reinforced in the process. The level of available information and actions that could be tolerated in a “closed” community had to be reduced when making it open to everyone.
Somehow, Workplace’s way of operation is bringing back the community roots of Facebook. With the extra benefit of every powerful communication features of Facebook (Newsfeed, Messenger, Live Videos, etc.):
- Workplace, a delegated “Facebook”: A Workplace instance is set up by a third party authority (in the standard use case, the employer) who manage users admission (in the standard use case, employees). The authority is responsible for contents safety and owns the platform’s data.
- Workplace, a disindividualized “Facebook”: Users do not build a network of “friends” on Workplace because their network is the whole community. They join and create groups that are relevant to what they do and like. The collective discussion is structured collaboratively instead of around individuals.
Workplace beyond employees communities
Workplace’s community-focused way of operation could prove useful and positive for other “tribes” than employees of a given organization.
The tribes can be brought together by work-related topics without having the same employer:
- Independent professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc.)
- Professionals sharing a coworking space
- Specialists of a market vertical
Nonwork-related tribes can also be envisioned:
- Members of a local community
- Enthusiasts of a particular sport
- Alumni from a given school
How to manage a Workplace beyond companies?
To efficiently run a Workplace “tribe,” we need to add to Workplace native tools:
- A public interface allowing potential members to request access by “proving” that they belong and qualifying what they do and like. Example for a local community: proof of address and local activities
- A groups architecture designed to optimize collective conversation, in which approved member will automatically be distributed according to the way they qualified themselves. Example for a local community: People living in the same street, the same building, etc.
Community managers will probably be needed to manage the activity and safety of a Workplace “tribe.” They would have specific statistical and moderation rights.
This non-standard use of Workplace raises a few question that needs to be resolved with Facebook in full transparency:
- How to make sure that users belonging to several different Workplaces will have a neat experience?
- What would be the cost of a Workplace “tribe”? A free version of Workplace has been announced. Will its functionalities cover the “tribe” use case?
- Some wordings may need adjustment (“colleagues” does not work well in most use cases). Would that be possible?
Do you think of a community that could be connected through a dedicated Workplace? Whether or not you represent an “authority” for this community (association, event, brand, city council, etc.), feel free to contact us so that we can add your use case to our reflexions and experimentations.
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