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 launched Workplace by Facebook. It’s the social media giant’s Facebook for the enterprise, and that’s good news for the more than 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 cheat sheet about Workplace by Facebook is an introduction to this business social media platform. This guide will be updated periodically as Workplace evolves.

SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and 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. Accounts are separate, so users of one Facebook platform don’t need to worry about their personal and business lives bleeding into each other.
  • Why does Workplace by Facebook matter? Workplace has the potential to truly change the collaboration game. It integrates with much of the same software available to other collaboration software; 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 collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • Who does Workplace by Facebook effect?? Workplace affects anyone who needs collaboration software. It also has the potential to have a huge effect on other collaboration platforms like Slack, Trello, and some Atlassian tools. At F8 in 2018, Facebook announced a long list of new integrations for Workplace, and recently expanded its profile customization and people search options with Workplace Profiles.
  • When was Workplace by Facebook released? Workplace was initially announced in October 2016. As of June 2020, Workplace Advanced accounts can be created for $4 per user per month, Enterprise accounts for $8 per user per month, and free Essential accounts are available as well.
  • How do I start using Workplace by Facebook? If you’re interested in making Workplace by Facebook your organization’s collaboration hub you can sign up for Essential, Advanced, or Enterprise plans at its website.

SEE: Social media policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What is Workplace by Facebook?

Imagine a version of Facebook where small communities are siloed from each other and there are additional collaboration features–that’s the basic gist of Workplace by Facebook. Profiles, news feeds, friends, 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 and are served alongside Slack and Microsoft Teams-like features such as file sharing, video conferencing, and chat.

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 Facebook accounts and Workspace accounts, so there’s no need to worry about crossover or bosses getting access to embarrassing college photos.

Workplace is available at three levels: Enterprise, Advanced, and Essential. Premium provides access to integrations and other enterprise-level features including single sign on, APIs, and IT monitoring tools; the free #Essential level lacks many of those customization features. For pricing details, check out the Workplace site.

Additional resources

Why does Workplace by Facebook matter?

Facebook has billions of monthly active users around the globe. It has become the most ubiquitous social media platform in the world–everyone from millennials to grandparents and even dogs have profiles.

Facebook is familiar, user-friendly, and designed to appeal to people of various tech skill levels. With Facebook 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?

At launch, Workplace integrated with cloud platforms including Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Salesforce, which put it in a good position to unseat some of the big players in the enterprise collaboration tools space. Workplace also made mobile apps available too.

During F8 2018, Facebook offered more proof that Workplace is gunning for a top spot in the enterprise collaboration tools space with the announcement of more than 50 new integrations with popular tools like SurveyMonkey, Atlassian, and SharePoint. You can see if your must-have tools are available in Workplace by checking out its Integrations Directory.

Business professionals that use custom integrations in their collaboration platform aren’t left out: Premium Workplace users can use APIs to build whatever custom integrations they need.

Facebook has also baked Facebook Live into Workplace, making broadcasting to employees and team members super quick. In 2020 Facebook added a new tool called Live Producer to its live broadcasting tools, which adds automatic closed-captioning, real-time translation, and in-video Q and A.

If Facebook gets Workplace’s features 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 effect?

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

Much of the collaboration we participate in at work is conducted 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, or even the world.

What Facebook is offering with Workplace is simple and appealing: Collaborate in a variety of synchronous and asynchronous ways using a platform familiar to billions of 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.

In July 2018 Workplace by Facebook announced the addition of Workplace Profiles, which give users the ability to add more information about their jobs and personal lives to their Workplace page. Additions to profiles include support for multiple phone numbers/extensions, Division and Organizations fields to better define work roles, and a biography field for (optional) personal details.

When Workplace first launched its big selling point was the interface of the largest social network in the world, but familiarity isn’t all Workplace has going for it now. Its premium models have most of the same features as other enterprise social collaboration tools, and at a lower price than its competitors.

For users who simply want a convenient way to keep in touch during the business day, Workplace has you covered there as well: Essential is free and comes with productivity features like a mobile app, video chat, instant messaging, unlimited file storage space, desktop notifications (Windows only), and integration with file storage services like Google Drive.

In short, Workplace by Facebook has everything you need, regardless of the size of your company or budget.

Additional resources

When was Workplace by Facebook released?

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 Facebook has added two tiers of premium service. Advanced, which costs $4 per user per month, and Enterprise, which is $8 per user per month.

A free Essential version of Workplace with fewer features was announced in April 2017 and is now available. It lacks some of the more robust enterprise features like platform integrations and API access and is more designed to be used out of the box. If all you need is a free collaboration tool for a single team or a small business the Essential version is for you.

Additional resources

How can I start using Workplace by Facebook?

Businesses can sign up for Workplace accounts at the Workplace website. Businesses that want to set up premium accounts can follow these steps to start the process.

Those interested in a free Essential account can sign up at the same location and then follow these steps to get going.

The Workplace by Facebook mobile app is available for iOS and Android mobile devices and can be found on iTunes and Google Play.

Image: Facebook

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