Meta shutting down Workplace tool, Walmart cutting jobs and relocating remote staff

Plus, a look at the “hot-desking” trend.

Greetings comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the last week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Meta set to shut down Workplace

Social media giant Meta announced plans to sunset Workplace, an internal social and productivity tool used by many members of the Ragan community. The shutdown comes after multiple rounds of layoffs. According to Axios, Meta reached out to customers about the shutdown, alerting them that they’ll be able to use the product through September 2025 and the entire program will close in 2026.

Meta’s investments in the metaverse and related technologies have led to both job and cost cuts, so this move isn’t a total surprise. Tools of the trade come and go — that’s why communicators need to have plans in place to make necessary shifts. It’s a reminder that you should always have internal social engagement options in your tech stack, even if they are not your primary channel, as a means to measure and gain both qualitative and quantitative insights that prove the worth of your employee engagement efforts.

Leave a comment below and let us know if you’re among those who are now hunting for a new internal social engagement platform.

2. Walmart cutting jobs, moving remote staff near HQ

Walmart is conducting a round of layoffs and working to move its remote workers closer to its Arkansas headquarters. The moves will mainly impact workers in the company’s Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto offices.

According to CNN:

Walmart confirmed the move in a memo sent by Donna Morris, its chief people officer, to employees on Tuesday and obtained by CNN.

Morris, in the memo, said the decision to relocate employees and ask other remote staff to come back into the office was made to facilitate better collaboration, innovation “and move even faster.”

“We also believe it helps strengthen our culture as well as grow and develop our associates,” she said in the memo.

As we wrote about earlier this week, RTO can be fine when done right. But asking people to uproot their lives (while it is part of the business world) in the name of collaboration just rings a little hollow. The hope here is that Walmart works with affected employees to hear their concerns about the move and provides needed support. At the very least, it should work to communicate transparently with those affected by the cuts and the move to provide reasoning within the company’s mission and values.

3. The rising trend of “hot-desking”

You’ve heard of quiet quitting, and another workplace trend is gaining steam! This term refers to the idea that hybrid workers have communal spaces rather than assigned seats in the office. This is ostensibly engineered to increase collaboration. But some employees find it disruptive.

Hot-desking, the idea that hybrid workers have communal spaces rather than assigned desks, is gaining steam on the heels of returns to the office. The trend, popular at smaller companies for some time, is championed by some as a way for once-distant coworkers to collaborate upon their return to the office. But others decry it as a distraction.

According to US News and World Report:

While hot-desking is often considered a workplace trend that employers love and workers hate, it isn’t always bad for employees. According to Rodriguez, employee reception of this trend is mixed. “Hot-desking can foster collaboration and a sense of community, but it can also disrupt focus, make personalization difficult and lead to feelings of isolation,” she said. “Some enjoy the flexibility and change of scenery, while others find it impersonal and disruptive.”

Matt Jones, CEO of WonderDays, an online experience-days gifts provider, said hot-desking supports his company’s flexible workspace needs and can inspire creativity through varied environments. He added a caveat, however: “Not all employees appreciate the lack of a permanent space, which can affect their sense of stability and belonging.” To mitigate this, Jones said WonderDays provides employees with personal lockers and designated quiet areas to give a sense of permanence and personal space.

We love to see an initiative that’s done in an attempt to foster positive work experiences, but before you got about making a major change like this, talk to your employees. As Jones said in the US News story, stability and belonging matter. It’s achieved through a greater marriage of feedback to action, which ultimately nurtures culture at work. And if some people get that from having a designated desk, so be it. It all starts with open dialogue.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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