One of the Web's biggest time-sucks wants to be leveraged as a new tool for productivity and collaboration at work. According to The Financial Times, Facebook is developing a new service to rival Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and LinkedIn all in one.
The new top-secret project is called Facebook at Work, and it will allow teams to work in real-time on documents and easily chat back and forth, all while incorporating a social layer. This enterprise service will be a completely different product than the current Facebook website, as a way to prevent employees' personal photos and updates from cluttering the professional work streams.
According to a recent survey by Salary.com, 23 percent of workers log-in to Facebook during office hours. Although the social network is quickly becoming a staple resource for digital marketing teams, it's safe to say that a majority of those respondents were not using Facebook for professional reasons. There's a reason Wall Street banks have banned employees from social networking during the 9 to 5.
Facebook's 8,000-plus employees in Menlo Park, Calif. already use the site as their go-to collaboration tool: Using Facebook messages instead of email, creating work group chats and sharing news with the team. Business Insider reports that Facebook at Work was originally inspired by how the social network is used by its own employees internally.
Facebook at Work is expected to offer a suite of key features below:
Facebook at Work will bring instant and group messaging elements similar to Salesforce's Chatter and Microsoft's Yammer products. Chatter and Yammer were both actually designed to be new private workplace solutions that incorporated a Facebook-style user experience. Coming full circle, Facebook is now creating its version of a social communication platform for businesses.
Google Drive, Box and Dropbox all have begun courting the enterprise market with cloud-based document sharing, syncing and collaboration tools, seen as more flexible alternatives to Microsoft Office. Deciding which of these services to use, however, requires all team members to sign up and adopt the same platform. This is where Mark Zuckerberg and company think they can win: Everyone's practically already on Facebook.
Facebook's mission statement aims to make the world more open and connected. If that is to be applied to Facebook at Work, then it's bad news for LinkedIn. At its core, Facebook is all about networking, and it plans to use Facebook at Work to help users expand their professional circle while clearly distinguishing between professional and personal connections.
People spend more time at work than anywhere else, so the opportunity is obvious. But there's also a risk. After spending eight hours toiling on Facebook-made products, will workers want to hang out there in their free time? There is a reason people don't play with Excel spreadsheets.