Around three months ago, we reported that Facebook was reportedly working on "Facebook at Work", a new workplace-specific experience for users of the popular social network. At the time, it was thought that "Facebook at Work" would include similar features as a normal social network; including a news feed, messaging, and groups, with new features such as separate work profiles, privacy settings, and document sharing, in order to enable collaboration in the work place.
Now, that product is officially seeing the light of day, with the company launching new iOS and Android apps called "Facebook At Work", along with a version of the app that runs in traditional web browser.
With "Facebook At Work", employers can create separate log-ins for employees to use with their work accounts, or users can also link these up with their own profiles to access everything in one convenient place.
The product pits Facebook against products like Microsoft's Yammer, LinkedIn, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and a large number of others who are trying to tackle the "social network for businesses" space. In particular, LinkedIn recently shared that it was looking to develop a product that has functionality to allow coworkers to communicate and share content.
While Facebook at Work is still in its infancy, there are a lot of questions still unanswered. For example, Facebook still has to work out how it might price the app, whether or not to monetize the service via advertisements, and how third-party apps might work with the product. Currently, there are no advertisements or apps on the new service.
Despite its infancy, Facebook has apparently been working on the product for the last ten years, in one form or another:
Rasmussen says that Facebook has effectively been working on Work for the last 10 years, because it is based on what Facebook’s own employees have been using to communicate with each other, pass on news, plan meetings and share documents. That long-time use and Facebook’s familiarity to all of us are part of what makes Facebook confident that it can carve a place for itself in a market that already is very crowded.
“Facebook at Work’s strength is that we’ve spent ten years and incorporated feedback from 1 billion active users,” he says. “All of that is embedded now in the same product but adapted for different use cases.”
A summary of what we know so far about Facebook at Work -
Pricing. So far, no details on this have been released; however, by making it free, Facebook could drive a lot more users to its new service. Considering the fact that advertising hasn't been ruled out, it's possible that Facebook will consider having an ad-free version at a cost to businesses.
Functionality. Based on remarks by Rasmussen, Facebook at Work will behave much like Facebook does today, except with more privacy controls allow only other employees within your workplace to see the content you post.
Limitations. While you can currently share documents with fellow coworkers, editing documents is not yet supported. There is a good chance that this will be supported in the future.
The Facebook Platform has also been disabled on the service, meaning there is currently no support for third party apps or access to its APIs. This is another thing that Facebook plans to enable down the road.
Last but not least, there is a lingering question on people's minds - with Facebook "owning" your data, could that result in a breach of confidentiality for the information you post via the service? We expect Facebook to clarify all of these questions in the near future.