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Patricia O'Loughlin
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Facebook at Work to Launch Later This Month (and Here’s What’s in Store)

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Under any other circumstance, the idea of socialising and getting business done are two opposing pillars. However, the world’s largest social media platform is set to challenge this stigma by finally releasing a product that has been in the making for two years – that’s right, Facebook At Work is set to launch sometime this October, and apparently it’s going to be quite the game-changer.

What is Facebook at Work?

For a long time, Facebook has been considered a prime mode of distraction in the workplace – it’s that place cheeky employees virtually escape to on their mobiles or desktops in order to catch up on the latest happenings in their friends’ lives (as well as the odd Harambe meme). But now, the social media giant is set to become a place for employees to exchange ideas – and not about which pub to go to for Friday night drinks.

Rather, Facebook is touting its newest feature with the savvy tagline: “A connected workplace is a more productive workplace”. According to the company, employees can create a new Facebook at Work account (which they can link to their existing personal account, if they so wish), where they can connect with employees to discuss project ideas, make decisions, and keep on track with upcoming tasks.

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How will it work?

Similar to the original Facebook that we have grown to love and adore, Facebook at Work incorporates a News Feed where users can “stay updated, join groups to collaborate, send messages and get notifications about what’s most important to you”. It has all the standard functions, such as Events and Live Video features, as well as instant messenger and voice and video calling via a tool called Work Chat.

Overall, it seems like a pretty good idea, with the diversification of income streams meaning there’s a good chance Facebook will boost its bottom line in a new way that steps aside from traditional marketing.

But what about sharing sensitive and confidential data on a channel like Facebook?

I know what you’re thinking – how can we trust that the information we share on this new tool will remain secure? Well, Facebook has outlined that it follows third-party industry standards when it comes to online security, and incorporates a control procedure where security assessment reports are “available on request”. So, as far as they’re concerned, your business secrets are safe with them.

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Okay, what about the pros and cons?

PROS:

  • It’s a platform everyone is already familiar with, helping it to leapfrog competitors like Convo, Salesforce Chatter and Yammer.
  • It comes in the form of iOS and Android apps, enabling users to work while on-the-go
  • It has the potential for decisions to be reached faster, therefore possibly scrapping the need for all those time-consuming meetings
  • It builds on a sense of teamwork and collaboration in the workplace

CONS:

  • Unlike Facebook as we know it, which is deliciously free, Facebook at Work will charge users – however, unlike similar products, the pricing model will be based on ‘per seat’ rather than charging a flat rate per company
  • Having your work readily accessible in the palm of your hand at all times may further blur work/leisure boundaries

This leads us to our next deliberation: Could work somehow become just as addictive as socialising?

It’s rare to find anyone these days who hasn’t succumbed to the alluring social media temptress that is Facebook – the digital giant reigns over all other competing channels, proudly claiming the crown as the most popular online platform for users to socialise upon. In fact, in a study conducted by Cornell University last year, researchers claimed to have found that Facebook users struggle to quit the network due to addiction – Facebook has become a habitual activity strongly ingrained in modern society’s nature, with one of the 5,000 research candidates even commenting that “In the first 10 days, whenever I opened up an internet browser, my fingers would automatically go to ‘f’”.

If this is the case, does that mean Facebook at Work could start to consume our lives like the original social network has? And if this happens, can we expect to be more passionate and fruitful in our jobs, propelling us to continually generate innovative ideas and jot them down at the mere taps of a phone screen, or to simply lose that linear differentiation between business and play?

Only time will tell.

Cover image: Technology Therapy

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By Patricia O'Loughlin


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