Using Facebook at work typically means furtive glances at photos and posts from friends and family. Facebook's latest venture could make such secrecy a thing of the past.
On Monday, the company moved from our social lives to our professional ones with the launch of Workplace, a new communication and collaboration platform for businesses.
Nicola Mendeon, the vice president for Facebook in Europe, introduced Workplace from the London office where it was designed as a "platform to connect the workplace". Formerly known as Facebook at Work, she called it a "mobile-first solution" that is also available for desktop. Read next: Can Facebook at Work penetrate the enterprise?
The mobile focus prioritises easy access for transient and geographically distant workforces, and team members without a desk job, such as the factory workers at Danone, whose executive vice president Francisco Camacho was a speaker at the launch event.
Email, he said, is fast becoming an outdated communication method as intra-office communications platforms provide real-time communications with only relevant staff members. His claim is supported by Deloitte research. Only 15 percent of the executives surveyed by the firm said they were happy with their current methods of collaboration and communication.
Workforce doesn't display posts chronologically, but instead uses an algorithm to ensure that the most important ones remain at the top. "The mission is not to kill email," said Julien Codorniou, director of Workplace. "But it is what happens."
Companies that have already adopted Workplace, he continued, use it instead of internal emails, mailing lists, and intranet. After 18 months of testing, there are already 1,000 of them, including Booking.com, LadBible, RBC, Renault, Oxfam and Telekom Austria Group. India, Norway, USA, UK and France are the countries with the highest uptake most so far.
Facebook Workplace: Features
The traditional design remains, both in aesthetics and function. Many of the Workforce functions will already be familiar to Facebook users, such as Messenger chat, groups, search, live-streaming video, auto-translate and Trending stories.
There are, however, some tweaks to the original, such as a shift in background colour from blue to grey, providing a more serious tone to match the professional focus. Users now follow each other and join groups to receive messages rather than add friends and the News Feeds are now used for work updates, with "Likes" likely limited to professional achievements instead of holiday snaps.
There are also entirely new tools, such as a dashboard with analytics, the possibility to integrate the service with existing IT systems, and a means to communicate between different businesses through multi-company groups. There is no limit to file, photo, or video storage and the number of groups on the platform.
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