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Facebook at Work (finally) launches as 'Workplace'

Matt Kapko | Oct. 11, 2016
Facebook already owns consumer social networking, and with its new Workplace service, it’s clear it wants the enterprise, too. The new offering will feel familiar to Facebook users but will also remain separate from company's consumer platform.

Facebook at Work, the company's social network for business, has a new name, but it features many of the same tools that 1.71 billion people use every month — without all the ads. Now called simply "Workplace," the service is now publicly available to any organization. Facebook is a dominant force among consumers and marketers, and now it is setting its sights on the enterprise market. 

Workplace is free for the first three months, and then Facebook will charge a range of monthly prices, per active user: $3 each for up to 1,000 users, $2 for up to 10,000 users and $1 each for enterprises with more than 10,000 users. Nonprofit organizations and academic institutions will get Workplace at no cost, according to Facebook. In comparison, the popular collaboration service Slack, now a Workplace rival, offers a free app with limited features, and it currently charges $15 per month per active user for its premium offering. 

workplace by facebook desktop

Desktop version of Workplace by Facebook.

Workplace is untethered from Facebook proper 

During a 20-month pilot phase, more than 1,000 companies tested Workplace, and Facebook says it made many changes based on feedback prior to today's launch. Perhaps the most notable tweak is a stronger separation between Workplace and Facebook's consumer service. "Most employees and employers wanted to have separation," says Sean Ryan, vice president of partnerships at Facebook. "[Businesses] want to make sure this was a workplace-oriented product, a productivity product, not a social product, so we separated it out into two different apps."

Workers will have to use Workplace and Facebook's consumer service in different browser tabs — they cannot toggle between personal and work accounts in the same tab. Workplace users will get access to a new Workplace mobile app and another "Work Chat" messaging app for organizations that's similar to Facebook's well-known Messenger app. Both apps will be available for iOS and Android devices. In browsers and via the mobile apps, "[I]t is a separate sign-on, and it's a separate instance," Ryan says. Those distinctions will also help Facebook position Workplace as a productivity tool, he says. 

Craig LeClair, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says Facebook made a wise decision by pushing an enterprise cloud platform that will compete with established enterprise vendors, such as Salesforce. The firm forecasts enterprise IT spending will reach $2.9 trillion in 2016, and it expects millennials to comprise half of all workers by 2020. "Facebook believes that coming out of the consumer world, where these millennials honed their habits, is a market they can succeed in and capitalize on financially, and I agree," LeClair says. 


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