Singapore’s government becomes the first civil service in the world to get the entire public service on board Facebook’s Workplace. Peter Ong, Head of the Civil Service, announced this morning at the PS21 ExCEL (Excellence through Continuous Enterprise and Learning) Convention at ITE College Central, said,

We launched Workplace in October, and as part of phase one, 15 agencies and more than 5,300 public officers are now digitally connected in real time.

The deployment will now be progressively extended to include the entire public service comprising about 143,000 officers by March 2017.

Prior to this, government had introduced its custom-built Cube, the very first “social intranet” for the Public Service. It was launched in 2013 with an aim to foster a vibrant community of public officers. Ong said,

The team found that Cube did not quite take off as expected – it was not a failure, but neither was it a force to reckon with.

The lack of a mobile app prevented easy access and limitations in use. It had unfamiliar interface and slow loading times limited its adoption, so the team looked at alternative ways to engage public officers. They found that Workplace could address all such issues, for example, it can be accessed on smartphones and tablets, without connecting to the government intranet.

After its first phase deployment in October, results showed better adoption by public officers. 82% of officers who activated their accounts are now active weekly users. This surpassed the average weekly visitorship on Cube in its first month of launch which was 61%, Ong added. So, after taking various security, cost, and usability factors into consideration, the team suggested to get the entire public service on board.

He went on to say that agencies have reduced the number of internal emails by posting major announcements on Workplace, senior leaders are engaging with their staff more frequently and meaningfully than before, and there is an “explosion of activity” across groups from small teams to large, cross-cutting communities of practice.

The move comes a few months after the Government announced that public officers will have no access to the Internet on their workstations by next June for security reasons. Though, hwo deployment of Workplace will play a role in this, was a bit unclear.

As the public servants would only have access to the intranet and work e-mail, full online access will be privded via designated terminals within the public sector’s network of 100,000 computers. However, the employees can browse the web via their own personal mobile devices, which would have no access to work e-mail systems.

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