WhatsApp is no longer just something in the private spheres. Colleagues use it for the work. Employees who share company information or customer data in WhatsApp groups are no exception. Most organizations do not think that is a good idea, especially now that the GDPR is in force. But how do you break that habit? To help you with that, I give you 5 tips.
WhatsApp and the GDPR
The German tyre manufacturer Continental goes hard: WhatsApp is forbidden on work phones. The company states that WhatsApp scrapes all kinds of privacy-sensitive information from phones on which the app is installed. This way personal details of customers and business relations can end up on Facebook.
For the time being, this involves metadata, such as who appt with whom, when and where. But there are also concerns about the content of messages. Continental does not want to run the risk of being held liable especially now that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in force. The recent scandal with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook shows what the risks can be.
Reduce WhatsApp usage
Most organizations do not want to go as far as Continental. But many have serious reservations. In my daily practice, in which we roll out social intranets and internal communication platforms at customers, I often hear the desire to reduce WhatsApp use for the work. But how do you manage that? Especially now everyone uses the app privately and is used to it. I give you five tips.
Tip 1. Put your objections on the table
The privacy scandals surrounding Facebook have been widely reported in the news. And your employees have probably already heard of the GDPR. No one will be surprised that you as an employer are not too keen on WhatsApp, mainly because you do not have an end-user contract with it.
Tip 2. Emphasize personal benefits
Hopefully, your employees understand your concerns, but that alone is usually not enough to change behavior. Therefore, focus especially on the personal benefits of stopping WhatsApp at work. The most important advantage of this is a good separation between work and private life. Many people find it annoying to get work apps notifications when they are free.
Team update to the costa
The summer vacation is a great time to make this point: who wants to be disturbed on the beach by the weekly team update? Or during a mountain walk to hear that the targets have not been met? WhatsApp does not want to put you off, because that is where your traveling companions, the home front, and your friends are also.
If work messages come through a different channel, you can simply switch it off during the holiday. Some communication platforms even have a holiday snooze button for that. This button stops all your notifications during a period of your choice, both in the app and via your mail.
Who would like to hear during a mountain walk that the targets have not been met?
Tip 3. Sketch the management problems
WhatsApp groups at work are often created from the bottom up, due to the lack of a good alternative. As a result, it is usually opaque who is in which group, and who is the administrator who can add you. That is inconvenient if you work on varying projects, for example.
It sometimes takes novices weeks or even months before they are in the right groups. And thus get access to important information. In addition: who makes sure that people who leave service – perhaps to the competition – are also removed and do not secretly keep reading? Your colleagues also understand that that is not useful.
Tip 4. Call on collegiality
I recently led a work session about the new intranet at a construction company. Of course, I proposed to use our platform Plek for chat. That idea generated a lot of chuckles. Little did I know what dirty pictures and slanted jokes about the team goes on Whatsapp?
When we talked for a while, we found out that not all team members were waiting for those jokes and pranks. But they could not get out of the group, because there were also work reports. Conversely, there were also former team members who were happy to receive the complaints, but had to get rid of the boss from the group. An alternative channel for work, so they only had to use WhatsApp for private purposes, was also the solution here.
Tip 5. Offer a full alternative
The above tips prove successful in practice. This only applies if one basic condition is met: organizations must offer a fully-fledged alternative to WhatsApp. Do your understanding employees immediately get involved if they want to create a group? Are there no apps for iPhone and Android? Do they have to log in via a VPN? Then forget it. Then they stay nice on WhatsApp.
So choose your social communication tool for ease of use. That sounds logical, but often considerations such as compatibility with existing systems and familiarity with a supplier get the upper hand in the choice. Do not get me wrong: they are not unimportant, certainly not when it comes to safety. So your chat must, of course, be encrypted. But if everyone stays WhatsApping, you are back to square one.
How do you deal with WhatsApp in your organization? I’m curious! Share it in a comment below.