What Does ‘Facebook at Work’ Mean for Enterprise Collaboration?

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The past few years have brought waves of new services created to help employees communicate and stay connected. From messaging services like Skype for Business to web conferencing, people can now collaborate with coworkers in more ways than ever. Interestingly, there’s a service that’s being developed to improve the way employees work together and communicate, and it’s coming from the biggest name in social media: Facebook.

In fact, Facebook is trying to bring new meaning to the term “Facebook at work”. While some employers have to put policies in place to curb the use of social media in the office, others are embracing social platforms for their ability to promote collaboration on platforms already familiar to employees. Though Facebook at Work launched their beta more than a year ago, their popularity is as strong as ever, with their waiting list topping 60,000 companies.

What is Facebook at Work?

Facebook at Work is a way for enterprises to build their own secure collaboration networks from the ever-popular social media network your employees are likely to use before and after they leave the workplace. The enterprise platform uses features like news feeds, groups, events and an instant messenger service to help coworkers exchange ideas, place items up for review and schedule meetings.

When your business signs up for Facebook at Work, only your employees with an authorized work account can log into the company’s social network. Each of your employees’ Facebook at Work accounts are separate from their own personal accounts. Instead of connecting with friends, your employees link up with their coworkers.

How will Facebook at Work Affect Enterprise Collaboration?

If your employees are already familiar with the Facebook interface, the enterprise version could prove to be a useful tool. Because it’s based on the social network itself, Facebook at Work is designed to be a natural fit for how your employees interact with each other online.

Simon McNamara, Chief Administrative Officer at the Royal Bank of Scotland, is overseeing the rollout of Facebook at Work for some 30,000 users. He noted that users of the Facebook at Work beta platform are forgoing emails in favor of sharing posts in groups and adding comments to threads.

“Email has become a broadcast mechanism where people are not reading much,” McNamara was quoted as saying in a recent TechCrunch article.

With an impressive 90% adoption rate and the beta test already showing signs that coworkers are engaging and collaborating more actively, RBS could be an interesting early case study for Facebook at Work.

The Possible Downside(s)

Facebook at Work’s ease of use and user friendliness make it an attractive option, but data privacy and the fact that Facebook can be a distraction for employees are causes for concern. Luckily, Facebook at Work is treated like a separate social network, and the Silicon Valley giant has taken steps to address these risks.

  1. Facebook users can link their personal and professional accounts and be logged in at the same time. No explanation needed as to why you may not want your employees logged into their personal Facebook account while at work.

The Solution: Facebook at Work’s application is completely unique and separated from Facebook, meaning employees won’t be mixing their personal and work lives together by using the tool.

  1. Facebook terms that could mean they technically “own” your data, which compromises the confidentiality of your information and opens you up to competitive threats, among others.

The Solution: Facebook at Work’s practices for data security are in line with many enterprise SaaS offerings. Company data is also completely secured – and able to be deleted – by network administrators as needed.

  1. Facebook ads can distract your employees and take them off-task.

The Solution: Facebook at Work will be generating revenue with a freemium model, offering special features for additional costs. There are no plans for ads to be displayed on Facebook at Work.

With so many of Facebook at Work’s features designed to be easy-to-use for employees, it’s possible that instant messenger could replace email, or perhaps FB events could be swapped in for Outlook calendars. As we all stay tuned for more info, businesses will have to take a peek for themselves to see if Facebook at Work is right for them. It’ll certainly be interesting to watch as Facebook at Work evolves – and learn what practical, day-to-day users can expect from the platform.

Currently “Facebook at Work” is known as “Workplace by Facebook” – communication tools suite for business.

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