Working From Home? A Guide to WeChat Work for Internal Communications
Last year we predicted that WeChat Work would become more widely adopted by businesses in China in 2020, but who knew it would be due to the coronavirus forcing millions of people to work from home?!
With the government extending the Spring Festival holiday and telling citizens to avoid going to the office this week, there has been a massive uptick in companies using slack-like apps such as WeChat Work to manage their remote workforces.
Yet even once the health crisis subsides and employees are back in the office, any business with a significant number of employees in China should consider adopting WeChat Work to streamline HR processes and facilitate internal communications.
While it’s likely your company has been getting along just fine for years with employees using their personal WeChat accounts for professional communications, you have to admit there are some real drawbacks.
For starters, employees can be easily distracted by personal matters while using WeChat to connect with each other during work hours. What’s more, WeChat does not offer a hub to connect employees across different departments or share information throughout the company. And there is a real lack of features needed for HR and Operations teams, as well as employee collaboration tools.
So what exactly does WeChat Work offer? We’ve written about WeChat Work’s features and benefits for external communications numerous times, but today we’re going to give an overview of the platform’s internal communications features.
Getting Started - Mobile and Desktop Version
Just in case you’re a complete WeChat Work newbie, the first thing you should know is that it is a standalone app, not a feature of WeChat. The app is available in English but unfortunately besides basic navigation most of the features are still actually in Chinese.
Easily Find Colleagues with Segmented Folders
A company will register a WeChat Work account and invite employees to join. The company admins can then segment employees based on departments and teams. If employees need to find a colleague, they can easily go into the department folder and scroll through to find that team member.
Chatly employees have been segmented by departments (left). Within a department folder are sub-folders for specific roles or teams (center). Within that folder individual team members’ job title will appear under their name (right).
In WeChat Work, employees can start conversations with their colleagues and invite them to meetings without needing to add them as a contact.
Note: If WeChat Work is being used solely for internal internal communications, employees do not need to verify their identity and employment status with Tencent, but if for external communications, i.e. linking their WeChat Work account to WeChat and speaking to customers on WeChat they will need to go through a verification process.
In 1-to1 chats on WeChat Work users have the ability to swipe left to access additional features such as calendars, approval forms, and reports (which we will discuss in detail below.) Users can also click on the top right and customize this “Open from Chat” screen by selecting the features they use the most.
Swipe left within a chat to reveal the “Open from Chat” screen which can be customized to provide easy access to features you use the most.
Just like in WeChat, employees can create chat groups. Some of the cool features of these groups are the ability to run group surveys or have group members vote on something. You can also schedule a meeting for all group members.
Features available to use in group chats.
Because of the virus causing so many people to work from home, WeChat Work has also added the ability for a member of the group to live stream to the group.
WeChat Work offers an online meetings feature similar to Zoom and they recently upgraded the feature to allow up to 300 employees to participate in a meeting. Meetings can be either audio only or video calls and users have the ability to share their screens with other attendees. Unfortunately the meetings feature is currently only available for internal meetings
Operations and Management Features
The ability to schedule meetings is only one of the many features found on the Workspace tab in WeChat Work.
Punch In and Out
The punch in and out feature has two options - one for employees working at the office and another for those working remotely. For those working off site, the app will pinpoint their location when they check in and out.
Company Announcements & Forum
With the announcements feature, leaders can post important information that they want the entire company to see such as upcoming holidays and events. The forum is a place for employees to have discussions about work topics, activities, etc. It even gives the option to post anonymously so that employees can post without feeling awkward or embarrassed.
With this feature, HR and Operations managers can create surveys to collect information from employees. Tencent has created some templates specifically for the Spring Festival season and the virus including “Spring Festival Travel Plans”, “Employee Daily Health Survey”, and “Employee Returning to Work Survey”. There is also a blank template to create your own form.
Create your own survey or use one that Tencent has provided (left). Example of a form template (right).
The approvals section streamlines HR processes with pre-created forms for requesting leave, filing reimbursements, notifying HR about business trips and more.
Employees can fill out and submit a variety of HR forms right within WeChat Work.
Additional Features: Email, Calendars, and Documents
Sync Email and Calendars
Employees can link their company emails to their WeChat Work Account enabling them to receive email notifications and view emails without leaving the app. They can also sync with external calendars.
Employees can bind their work email (left) as well as their calendars (right).
WeDoc and WeDrive
Similar to Google Drive, users can save files in their WeDrive and create shared folders with colleagues. Company admins can also create shared folders accessible to all employees. In addition to uploading external files, users can also create and edit documents and spreadsheets within WeChat Work.
The company can create folders accessible to all employees (left). Users can create documents and spreadsheets (center and right).
As you can see, WeChat Work provides a wealth of features to simplify company procedures and improve communication flow within an organization. And if all of these features we shared aren’t enough, WeChat Work users can scroll down to the bottom of the Workspace tab to “Add Apps” to access the platform’s very own 3rd-party app store featuring app categories such as corporate training, logistics management, contracts, working remotely, and more.
Learn more about WeChat Work apps and mini programs here: WeChat Work: the Next Frontier for Mini Programs
If your company is adopting WeChat Work for internal communications, you may want to consider using it for external communications as well.
Learn more here: Clienteling, Chat Archiving, and Mobile CRM: 3 WeChat Work Use Cases