Software Smart Person's Guides

Workplace by Facebook: The smart person's guide

Facebook is getting in on the business collaboration game with Workplace. Read on to get all the info you need to know about this new form of enterprise social media.

Video: Why BlueJeans CEO is betting big on the future of Facebook Workplace in the enterprise

The workplace is much more decentralized today than it was in decades past, making collaboration software an essential part of accomplishing goals. There are plenty of collaboration options available, but all come with a catch: They don't look like any platform you use in your personal life.

Facebook seems to realize that, which is why it just launched Workplace by Facebook. The social media giant's newest product is Facebook for the enterprise, and that's good news for the nearly two billion people who use Facebook regularly. It looks familiar, behaves familiarly, and has a focused purpose: Leverage a known platform for enterprise applications.

TechRepublic's smart person's guide about Workplace by Facebook is a quick introduction to this business social media platform, as well as a "living" guide that will be updated periodically as it evolves to suit new business needs.

SEE: All of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What is Workplace by Facebook? Workplace is a business-focused version of Facebook that creates a collaborative space with a look, feel, and function similar to the consumer version of Facebook that already exists. Accounts are separate, so users of one don't need to worry about personal/business lives bleeding into each other.
  • Why does Workplace by Facebook matter? Workplace has the potential to truly change the collaboration game. It already has a solid list of integrations, it benefits from Facebook's years of platform refinement, and it has practically no learning curve for Facebook users. If Facebook does things right with Workplace it could be a serious challenger to other collaboration platforms.
  • Who does Workplace by Facebook affect? Workplace affects anyone who needs collaboration software, both real-time and otherwise. It also has the potential to have a huge effect on other collaboration platforms like Slack, Trello, and some Atlassian tools.
  • When is Workplace by Facebook happening? Workplace was initially announced in October 2016. Premium accounts can be created now, and invites for Workplace Standard began rolling out in April 2017.
  • How do I start using Workplace by Facebook? If you want to use Workplace Standard you'll have to wait for an invite. Companies that want to start Premium accounts for their businesses can sign up now.

SEE: Social media policy (Tech Pro Research)

What is Workplace by Facebook?

Imagine a version of Facebook where small communities are siloed from each other--that's the basic gist of Workplace by Facebook. Profiles, newsfeeds, groups, and other features of consumer-facing Facebook are there, but they're all restricted to people who share your business's email domain name.

Registering for a Workplace account is completely separate from your existing Facebook profile and is done using your work email address. Once you register, Workplace will tell you if there are other users from your domain on the site and pair you up with them once you verify your email address.

There isn't any overlap between personal and Workspace accounts, so there's no need to worry about crossover or bosses getting access to embarrassing college photos.

Additional resources

Why does Workplace by Facebook matter?

Facebook has nearly two billion monthly active users around the globe. It has become the most ubiquitous social media platform in the world--everyone from millennials to their grandparents and their parents' dog have profiles.

Facebook is familiar, user-friendly, and designed to appeal to people of various tech skill levels. With Facebook now turning that familiarity toward the business world, it stands to make a killing--who wouldn't want to use a platform they're already familiar with instead of learning something new?

Workplace may be new and largely behind a wall of invites, but that doesn't mean it isn't already prepared to unseat some of the big players in workplace collaboration. It already integrates with cloud platforms like Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Salesforce; mobile apps are already available too.

Facebook has also baked Facebook Live into Workplace, making broadcasting to employees and team members super quick.

If Facebook gets Workplace's rollout right, it has the potential to steal a lot of customers from other collaboration platforms, especially among businesses that have less tech-savvy employees. That's why Workplace matters--it might not be a major breakthrough in tech, but it's a great application of a familiar interface.

Additional resources

Who does Workplace by Facebook affect?

There are two large groups that stand to be affected by Workspace: Employees who need to collaborate online, and companies that manufacture collaboration software.

Much of the collaboration we do in daily business is done online, either through email, chat, phone calls, or video conferencing. Modern technology has enabled businesses to exist in a million different living rooms, and that inevitably means teams will be spread out around the country.

What Facebook is offering with Workplace is simple and appealing: Collaborate in a variety of synchronous and asynchronous ways using a platform familiar to nearly 2 billion people. It's hard to see how it could lose, and that's a problem for other collaboration platforms.

Workplace has Slack-like chat, file sharing, team channels, live video, reporting, and a lot of other features that exist in other platforms. The difference? The all-in-one Facebook interface.

Sure, there are speciality features of some collaboration suites that Workplace doesn't have, but if your company simply needs a way to keep in touch during the business day, Workplace has everything you may need--and at a lower price than competitors.

Additional resources

When is Workplace by Facebook happening?

Facebook announced Workplace in October 2016, and in the same announcement revealed that over 1,000 companies were already using it for testing. Since then Premium subscriptions have opened up to companies, with prices starting at $3.00 per month for the first 1,000 users, $2.00 per month for the next 9,000 users, and $1.00 per month thereafter.

Those prices aren't in effect yet, though: Facebook has made Workplaces Premium free until September 30, 2017.

A free Standard version of Workplace with fewer features was announced in April 2017 and is planned to be free. It hasn't been released yet.

Additional resources

How can I start using Workplace by Facebook?

Businesses can sign up for Workplace accounts at the Workplace website. All you need to do is follow these steps to start the process.

Those interested in a Standard account will have to wait--there's no way to sign up, or even get yourself on a list, yet.

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