When Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, it was the largest deal ever for a venture-backed startup. The reason for the massive selling price was the worldwide phenomenon that WhatsApp was becoming. At the time of the acquisition, WhatsApp had a half a billion monthly active users, which as of May 2020, has now grown to over 2 billion users.
Though it was first intended to be a personal messaging app, employees have begun to use WhatsApp for business communication. Because of WhatsApp’s price (it’s free) and ease of use, it can look like an attractive ad-hoc solution for workplace communication, particularly for mobile frontline employees.
Although WhatsApp is great for communicating with friends and family, there are many reasons why using WhatsApp for workplace communication is a very bad idea.
Here are just a few.
Safe Business Communications: WhatsApp’s Data Privacy Record Is Abysmal
WhatsApp has been heavily criticized for its failure to protect its users’ data privacy in the past. What’s more, the European Court of Justice ruled that US tech companies, specifically Facebook, do not provide an adequate level of protection of personal data for their European users.
If your employees are using WhatsApp for business communication on their personal mobile devices, they are exposing your company to serious data breaches and security risks.
In spite of all the legal, ethical, and personal risks associated with using WhatsApp for workplace communications, employees still do it every day.
According to a recent white paper by Google,
“If not given company-approved cloud tools, frontline workers may risk company and data security and regulatory compliance to use their own. Fifty-three percent of frontline workers use messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger up to six times a day for work-related reasons, but 68% of them said they’d stop if given approved internal communication tools.”
Disjointed Communication Hurts Productivity
Another major con of using WhatsApp for workplace communication is that it can sometimes create more confusion and chaos. Juggling multiple group chats, no user management, and unprofessional user names like “Dragon Princess” make managing business communication through WhatsApp a nightmare.
All this confusion ultimately leads to unclear, disjointed, and disconnected workplace communication. In the end, WhatsApp hurts productivity more than it helps. If you’re spending fifteen minutes of each shift trying to figure out which group chat your closing checklist was sent to, then it pretty much defeats the purpose.
It can also lead to embarrassing blunders when employees accidently post personal messages to a work chat or share their WhatsApp Live Location with their boss by mistake. In the end, WhatsApp is just plain messy, as it was designed for personal communication.
Lack of User Management Creates Security Issues
When it comes to secure messaging, WhatsApp ranks at the bottom of the list. The app is constantly getting hacked. It’s teeming with scammers, and it’s vulnerable to malware attacks.
But aside from all that, WhatsApp’s group messaging shortcomings and lack of scalable user management introduce a host of additional security problems.
WhatsApp groups are limited to only 100 people, so if you’re running a large company it’s impossible to scale your internal communications company-wide.
User management for WhatsApp quickly becomes a massive issue for management and HR. If a person in a chat changes their phone number, and they aren’t removed from the WhatsApp chats they’re in, the new owner of the old phone number will continue to receive all messages from chats.
See what we mean by a lack of security? Even more, you can’t control who has access to group chats (whoever creates them does, so they’re difficult to manage. Plus, if your employees don’t want to share their private numbers with colleagues, then they won’t be able to join work chat groups on their mobile phones.
Additionally, if an employee leaves the company, there’s practically no quick way to remove them from the WhatsApp group, which means they’ll still have access to sensitive business information even after they’ve terminated employment.
Why You Need a GDPR-Compliant Communication Tool
Executives now face a sprint of thorough internal evaluations to revamp policies around the collection, storage, or usage of EU resident personal data. The financial implications of breaching GDPR are astronomical. We recommend mapping all data assets and appointing dedicated Data Protection personnel on a full-time or contract basis to properly oversee the adoption of high-caliber data protection processes and technologies.
The new GDPR regulations affect your internal communications more than you think. The internet tech giant, Google has already been fined 50 million Euros because the company failed to provide adequate information to its users about its data consent policies.
How you handle personal data is under more scrutiny than ever, and companies who are caught still using outdated, non-compliant communication tools like WhatsApp will have to pay a hefty fine. Avoid the trouble, and use a secure, GDPR-compliant tool like Beekeeper and save yourself and your team from facing a showdown with government regulators. Yikes!
Do Employees Really Want to Use WhatsApp at Work? (No. They Don’t)
WhatsApp became a popular ad-hoc communication tool in the workplace mostly out of necessity, not because employees were excited to chat with their boss.
Some users feel that using WhatsApp for business communication blurs the line between their personal lives and their work lives a little too much.
One person writes,
“My WhatsApp… it’s really 91% work-related chats and it’s bugging me even on weekends… it’s mixed into my personal life and I hate it…. I wanna go on WhatsApp and chat with my friends, not deal with work, or be reminded of work.”
When employees are asked to use their own personal accounts, on their devices in their own time, they naturally grow resentful towards company communication in general.
The best way to avoid internal communication burnout among your frontline employees is to give them a company-issued app that was built for workplace communication.
With a platform like Beekeeper, frontline employees can easily adjust their notification settings to “Do Not Disturb Mode” when they’re off the clock. This ensures that your company’s internal communication is compliant with labor laws, and it lets your hardworking employees relax and enjoy their free time outside of work. It’s a win/win.
Beekeeper: A Secure, Scalable Alternative to WhatsApp
Our platform offers banking-standard security to keep your internal communication private and your employee information secure. Here’s what that actually entails.
- Virtual Private Cloud
- Hosted in ISO 27001 certified data centers
- Multi-layer tenant data segregation
- Full Encryption
- Uses AES 256 and TLS 1.2 encryption
- High Availability
- Contractually binding 99.9% availability
- Regulatory Compliance
- Compliant with Swiss Data Protection Act and GDPR
- Admin-Controlled Access
- Role-based permissions via Admin Dashboard
If security and compliance are priorities for your business, then using WhatsApp to communicate at work is just not a good idea. Your frontline employees need a dedicated workplace communication tool that allows them to access information and communicate with each other at work, while also respecting their free time outside of work hours. Beekeeper allows businesses to take back control of their data, easily manage users, and stay legally compliant.
To learn more about why consumer-grade apps could threaten your business data, download our Security and Support checklist.
Most Frequently Asked Questions
No, although WhatsApp is great for communicating with friends and family, there are many reasons why using WhatsApp for workplace communication is a very bad idea.