Facebook At Work? Social Media is Coming at Your Office

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Social media sites are usually blocked in your office, for obvious reasons. Browsing these sites during working hours lowers your efficiency and affects your productivity. However, there might be a situation where you have to use social networks for legit purposes. Facebook sees an opportunity in this case. A platform for work-related communication channels, Facebook at Work, was unveiled as the site’s take on professional cases. This version grants intra-office chats and connection with your company’s business partners.

Its existence was leaked in 2014, but Facebook neither confirmed nor denied the news. Nonetheless, the company’s employees are reported to use an office-version of the site. About 450 companies were already on board, by the time it was formally announced.

The Launch

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Two years in the making, Facebook at Work will launch in October. The date was originally intended to be on the last quarter of 2015, but didn’t happen. However, Facebook executive, Julien Codorniou, stated that the unveiling will be in the summer or early fall of 2016. The announcement coincides with Microsoft’s decision to integrate social focused Yammer Enterprises to Office 365.

On paper, Facebook at Work is the lovechild of Facebook, Google Drive and Linked-in. You can log through the regular Facebook homepage, but only work related matters are shown on your business account. Familiar tools, like News Feed, Groups and Events are also located in workplace-version of the site. There is even a dedicated app similar to Messenger in Facebook at Work.

Facebook will charge a fixed monthly fee per active user. It has yet to disclose the exact amount required, but companies are given free-trials before getting charged. Estimates range from $1 to $5 monthly, per user. Also, the subscribing firm does not have to pay for inactive accounts. If this is true, using Facebook at Work will be way more affordable than its nearest competitor, Slack, which charges about $6.67 per month. It is worth noting that this business app lacks a news feed, which Facebook has.

Facebook at Work was created in the hopes of generating a more stable revenue, unlike that from the ads in the main Facebook site. It currently has 5.25 million users, and Facebook is expecting an upward trend, now that it’s been unveiled to the public.

Using Facebook at Work

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Unlike your regular blue-tinged Facebook account, Facebook at Work presents a more somber theme. The gray-colored homepage instantly reminds you that you are to use a business-friendly website. Also noticeable is the work-oriented interface and that the site is ad free. You get a separate account for your company, and it is independent from your main account. Rest assured that none of your personal engagements will be mixed with your Facebook at Work profile. Moreover, users can switch from their business account to the personal account with a single click.

If there’s one thing Facebook excels at, is its ease of use. Almost everyone knows how to use the site. Registration is only clicks away and Facebook offers clean GUI for users. Hence, it’s no surprise Facebook at Work received good responses from participating employees, right away.

The Facebook at Work Wall

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Your Facebook at Work account works almost the same as your regular account. A mobile application will be also available for Android and iOS. Groups can be created, but solely for business projects this time around. Announcements are shown in your groups or in the news feed. Employees’ news feed is also customized to display information that is most important for them. Built-in analytics include the number of employees who saw a post, as well as the mobile device they are using. It also determines the most influential users, by recording the times they posted and commented on Facebook at Work.

A Messenger-like application, called Work Chat, is developed for Facebook at Work. It allows employees to chat in a similar fashion as on the core site. Video calls are also possible, as this feature was carried over to Facebook at Work. The only difference is it doesn’t have to be always on. You can check for updates periodically, without constant interruption in your work.

Unfortunately, Facebook at Work lacks integration with third party apps, at the moment. Updates and add-ons will come eventually, though. In fact, there are rumors of a partnership between Facebook and other Software as a Service (SaaS) tools.

Some Challenges

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Perhaps Facebook needs to remove the notion that social media sites reduce productivity during office hours. Employers already had that prejudice, years after the site became popular. Facebook is reputed to be the ultimate social media platform, after all. Facebook at Work also stripped the element of fun, which is the essence of these kinds of sites.

In addition, we are used to see pictures on our Facebook walls, which was deemed as a problem in beta tests. They noticed employees are more receptive to photos than to lengthy statuses. Of course, these firms found solutions in the form of visual aids. Graphs and other charts were used, instead of typical text-based announcements.

Fortunately, there is a positive reception from participating companies during beta testing. About 60,000 more firms are on the waiting list. Huge companies also tried it, specifically the Royal Bank of Scotland, which has over 100,000 employees.

Whether the site adds something to intra-office communication platforms remains vague at this point. Facebook at Work will compete against Microsoft’s Yammer and Slack. The latter has become one of the fastest growing business apps in recent times. Nonetheless, Facebook still sees a good opportunity in this case. This is a relatively new and lucrative market, and offers a consistent stream of cash flows. Facebook already has the competitive edge in the ease of use and economies of scale.

Moreover, the auto-translate feature is also available in Facebook at Work. This facilitated the communication between employers and international employees. The other feature records the collective mood of employees, by analyzing their posts. While this proves helpful for employers, it can potentially restrict the freedom of expression in offices.

Final Words

In the end, Facebook just has to remove the stigma around social media sites in the workplace. Now the firm is poised to dominate your office too.

What do you think about Facebook at Work?

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