If your office blocks Internet access to Facebook, odds are it doesn’t block LinkedIn, too. Facebook thinks that’s no fair. Now, the social network is building “Facebook at Work,” a version of its site for the workplace.
According to the Financial Times, the site will look like Facebook proper, but allow employees to keep their work life separate. Users will be able to chat with coworkers, collaborate on projects, and build catalogues of colleague’s contacts, with each of these services directly competing with Microsoft’s Yammer, Google’s Drive, and LinkedIn.
A work-friendly Facebook makes sense for the social network so that it can grasp even more of users’ time. CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in July that American users spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the site. This could be compounded during work hours.
However, Facebook has several hurdles ahead of convincing companies to unblock a new work-friendly version of Facebook. First, there’s employers’ beliefs that Facebook is a waste of time. A 2009 survey found that more than half of employers had Facebook blocked. There’s also Facebook’s dismal privacy record. Will companies really want their employees storing sensitive work information in the same cloud that ignores “do not track” browser settings?
Finally, and most damningly, is the fact that all the services Facebook at Work will offer already exist. Slack, Google Drive, and LinkedIn already do these features well, and have the market for these respective services cornered. If Facebook at Work is going to have a chance of competing, it’ll need to extremely improve on its competitors’ services. And from the little we’ve seen of the service (with Facebook declining to comment), it’s hard to tell if Facebook for Work even has a chance.
Screengrab by Facebook