Earlier this week, Facebook launched a new app called ‘Workplace’. Sporting the strap-line ‘collaborate and get more done’, the service enables businesses to leverage the power of the world’s most popular social network in order to provide a communication and collaboration platform for employees.
Clearly, Workplace is taking direct aim at Slack, an impressive communication tool that has long tried to force email into (some would say long-overdue) retirement. But can this latest development from Facebook succeed where Slack has arguably struggled to make a significant impact worldwide? Or will Workplace simply fall down the rabbit hole into which many an extra-curricular Facebook venture has disappeared?
Mark Zuckerberg and co. have clearly invested a great deal of time into Workplace. Take one look at the official website and you’ll note that several big names are already using the platform, including Booking.com, Oxfam and RBS.
The once social network clearly means business - literally.
In this post, we’ll take a look at Facebook’s latest creation and provide some insight into how it may benefit your own operation.
So, what is Facebook Workplace, exactly?
Workplace is an app that is available both on mobile devices and the web (yep, just like Facebook). Originally called ‘Facebook Work’, the new service offers familiar features like Facebook’s Messenger and Groups but also includes built-in video and audio calling.
The app isn’t particularly new - a version of it has been used for several years internally at Facebook and a beta test with external companies has been in place since 2015, which may account for some of the big names already onboard.
Workplace essentially takes the best of Facebook and tunes it for a commercial audience. Here are the top features businesses can get their teeth into:
- Custom domain. Companies that sign up to Workplace get their own domain (e.g. mycompany.facebook.com), via which employees can login when accessing the service from a computer.
- Groups. Just like Facebook, Workplace lets users create groups to which they can assign specific members. Groups are essentially discussion forums where content such as video and documentation can be shared.
- News feed. Familiar to anyone who uses Facebook, the news feed is where a user can see a consolidated list of everything that matters to them, be it conversations from groups, company-wide shares or trending posts.
- Chat. Workplace chat is near identical to that of Facebook and can be used for both text-based discussion and video calls.
- Events. Company nights out, big customer visits and conferences are just some of the events that can be publicised, discussed and arranged directly within Workplace.
Those familiar with Facebook will doubtless be thinking “my, this sounds awfully similar to Facebook”, and they’d be right - it is. The clever tactic employed by Zuckerberg’s team is that Workplace is entirely separate to ‘regular’ Facebook; one doesn’t get in the way of another.
Workplace is also completely ad-free, which really does set it apart from its ancestor.
How much does Workplace cost?
There’s a three month free trial for the curious, and after that a tiered pricing model comes into effect.
Businesses with less that 1,000 active users pay $3 per user per month, and that fee drops to $1 per user for companies with 10,000 or more employees.
Encouragingly, if you’re a non-profit or educational institution, Workplace is completely free of charge.
Is Facebook Workplace right for my company?
You’ll doubtless have formed a conclusion based on the information contained within this post, but the suitability of Workplace for your organisation is a question only you can answer.
It won’t kill email completely, as that method of communication is still valuable, but it may just provide a platform for collaboration with which people are entirely familiar. Workplace is, essentially, just Facebook with a few bells and whistles added on for businesses, but that’s why it may stand a better chance than Slack when it comes to gaining significant popularity.
Make use of the free trial and give it a go - you have little to use. Just be sure to trial it among a small subset of the company first. If it improves communication and raises staff morale, it may just be worth going all-in on Workplace.