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How did Simployer ensure the successful launch of Workplace from Facebook?

No more than nine weeks after the first in-person meeting with Cloudworks as an implementation partner, the Simployer group completed a very successful launch of Workplace from Facebook - three companies simultaneously across five locations and three countries!

Åse Helene Rogne-Hansen

We had a chat with Communication Manager Cornelia Bjørke-Hill to get a better impression of how they did it.

The Simployer group

Workplace post by an enthusiastic Cornelia Bjørke-Hill with colleague Knut Arild Vold. The red arrow points to CEO Thorfinn Hansen holding his first live broadcast via Workplace from Facebook.

The Simployer group is a leading technology and expertise company in HR and finance. Their goal is to assist their clients in creating good jobs and facilitating better organizational performance. Simployer is, among other things, responsible for the Simployer HRM system. They have approximately 250 employees and are located in Sarpsborg, Kristiansund, Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Gdansk.

Cornelia Bjørke-Hill is Communication Manager in the Simployer group and was the initiator of implementing Workplace from Facebook in the organization. Cloudworks was chosen as a partner to ensure good technical and organizational implementation. Together with the project group and Cornelia as a strong driving force within the organization, the launch of Workplace from Facebook was a success.

However, quality feedback from the entire organization throughout the process and a 97% adoption rate do not come by itself. It requires skilled partners, a lot of planning, hard work, and a great deal of enthusiasm in addition to the right attitude!

Single-Sign-On from Okta became the solution

The Simployer group had many technical barriers as they were in the middle of merging three companies at the time of the Workplace from Facebook implementation. This meant a great deal of communication and follow-up between countries, departments, and companies. The effort to merge the three companies into the same Active Directory was pushed hard by the Workplace project team as they were unwilling to implement Workplace from Facebook without Single Sign-On (SSO). This is because good user experience is crucial when introducing a new service, and an SSO solution ensures user-friendly authentication. Since the process of merging the three Active Directory companies is both complex and time-consuming, Cloudworks’ recommendation was to integrate Workplace with Okta’s SSO solution. Simployer chose to go for the recommendation, and Cloudworks then integrated user and organizational data from the three AD domains into Okta.

Communication was key

Cornelia says that their goal was for the implementation to be the best service implemented in Simployer. Communication was the key to achieving that.

Representing each location, country, and department, 50 employees were selected to serve as ambassadors for Workplace from Facebook. They received additional training to be familiar with all the ins and outs of the tool before the launch and were tasked with being a positive reinforcement internally to make sure the tool was well received. The reason why Simployer chose so many was to make it easier to ask questions. Cloudworks conducted training for all countries simultaneously through Simployers’ live broadcast classroom training.

As part of her role as communications manager, Cornelia visited most locations and conducted video conferences to talk about Workplace from Facebook and what the tool could mean for the Simployer group. The members of the project team inspired their departments and helped convince them that Workplace would revolutionize the way they collaborated.

It is hard to imagine a life without Workplace now.
How did we manage to communicate internally before?
Cornelia Bjørke-Hill, Communication Manager in the Simployer group

Internal survey

Six weeks before the launch of Workplace from Facebook, Simployer conducted an in-house survey. This was to figure out which challenges the employees had when communicating with colleagues who weren’t nearby. It also examined how well the employees knew the company’s business strategy.

Results from the pre-launch survey:

  • Finding the right person to talk to can be difficult
  • Time-consuming to wait for an email
  • E-mails sent to everyone disappear among all messages during the day, and important information does not reach everyone
  • 3 separate intranets that do not match
  • The employees were familiar with the business strategy, but only a handful had good knowledge of it

The same survey was repeated three months after launch. The results of the survey showed amazing changes: 

  • Easier to get quick answers. Writing a post in a group allows everyone to contribute
  • The email correspondence is significantly reduced
  • Improved flow of information between countries, departments, and people
  • The employees confirm that they have more knowledge about the business strategy
  • Easier to share success stories, information and presentations throughout the whole organization
  • Managers more visibly present
  • Higher organizational coherence

Preparation of groups in Workplace from Facebook

Experience has shown that devoting time and effort into creating a well-rounded group structure in the Workplace before launch has been crucial to how the organization has welcomed the tool. With good help from Cloudworks and focusing on the takeaways from the pre-launch study, this became the key area of the project’s work. Relevant content was also prepared in the various groups, as well as guidelines for communication and use of the tool. Simployer has subsequently also made an overview of which groups you MUST join as an employee, which you should join, and which you can decide for yourself whether or not to join.

Training of key personnel and management

For five weeks, the ambassadors learned as much as possible about Workplace from Facebook, and the management team, led by the CEO, got to know the tool and became familiar with how to use it in the best possible way. As a result, Simployer had a thoroughly reliable group of experts as they launched their new internal interaction and communication platform.

Preparation of communication material

Communication at the launch

Cloudworks compiled communication material that Simployer adapted to their use. This included, among other things, that there were many posters about Workplace from Facebook at all five Simployer locations in the days before launch. These were informative and increased expectations. There were posters in all toilets, meeting rooms, video conference rooms, and printer and copy rooms, as well as on every bar, glass door, and even on all the coffee machines!

Take a bun! 

The night before the launch, a flyer was placed in all office spaces after everyone had left for the day. The flyer played on irony, saying that all the staff should register and “grab a bun”. At the main office in Norway, a lot of buns were “grabbed” in a short time, and the number of people who signed up far exceeded expectations! By the time all the buns had been eaten that day, 89% had registered. A week later, the number was up to 97% registered. The remaining three percent constitutes sick leave, maternity leave, and other legitimate reasons. Cornelia has received overwhelmingly good feedback from most colleagues regarding the tool.

Supreme leader as an avid ambassador

Managing Director Thorfinn Hansen hosts the General Assembly on Workplace for the first time

Managing Director Thorfinn Hansen had his first General Assembly less than one week after the launch date, and it was a great success. He enthusiastically reached out to all the staff at Simployers’ five locations in three countries. The basic idea behind Workplace from Facebook about “working out loud” had already come to fruition in the organization.

Thorfinn Hansen also has his own group at Workplace where he reaches out to all the employees and it’s easy to get in touch with him. “Thorfinn’s corner” is the name of the group, and here he shares his thoughts on the status of the companies, shares relevant links and answers any questions.

Optimization of Workplace from Facebook

Simployer continuously monitor the activities in the groups, as well as follow up internally for the best use of the platform. Cornelia mentions that she is active several times a day by asking: “Could this have been communicated through Workplace? Next time maybe this could be a group chat? Do you think this group could be better to reach the people you want to get in touch with?”

– There will always be someone who does not embrace a new solution right away. I am convinced that it requires consistent use over some time for Workplace from Facebook to be properly adapted by the organization. Understandably, some people need more time to grow accustomed to it than others, but we have got an extremely good start, says Cornelia Bjørke-Hill in conclusion.

The collaboration with Cloudworks has been very good. We had close follow-up and a clear division of responsibilities from the start, and we quickly found the process that in turn led to a successful launch.

Cornelia Bjørke-Hill, Communication Manager in the Simployer group

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