Facebook for Work is currently in BETA and being used at over 300 organizations
It’s interesting that two completely different perspectives about the impact of Social media in the workplace both came out this week. One version paints the usual picture that portrays the evils of social media, and the loss of human interaction, and suggests ways to prevent that impact. Steve Kelman posted to his blog: “Is Facebook Ruining the Military”. He wonders if the Military and more typical companies are ”in danger of losing a balance between person-to-person, closer-knit verbal communication and the more impersonal type often occurring in social media?” Some may question how important this issue is for a more typical workplace. Do we, for example, need to create internet-free spaces in the cafeteria? Are people withdrawing into their devices, and missing out on in-person interactions? These are important questions.
And from the opposite corner, emerges the challenger to that opinion. Facebook itself is creating a Facebook for Work. Facebook at Work won’t be publicly available until 2016. Facebook says some version of the service will be available for free but organizations that integration with enterprise tools will likely have to pay. A big attraction to employers is there’s no learning curve for employees – most everyone knows how Facebook works. While Facebook at Work is separate from regular Facebook, it uses the site’s familiar tools and helps employees collaborate within a company using news feed, groups, messages and events.
Facebook for Work is currently in BETA and being used at over 300 organizations according to Matt Kapko at CIO.com. “If you can’t beat them, join them” seems to be the battle cry of those who are Beta Testing this application.
Many organizations are regulating the use of social media. Many Human Resources professionals see Facebook as a potential nightmare. There are plenty of stories about employees being fired due to their (mis)use of Social Media. But imagine the ways employees could collaborate, and find information quickly from their co-workers if they were given the opportunity to use a fully functional version of Facebook designed for Enterprise sized organizations. One beta tester was quoted as saying a question that would typically require a few hours of calls and emails was answered with Facebook for Work in a fraction of the time. We won’t have to imagine it for long, it is almost ready to be released; and just like the personal version, Facebook plans to offer it free of charge.
Facebook’s new workplace tool already puts it into direct competition with Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce’s Chatter, Jive Software and start-ups Slack, Convo and Hipchat. CNBC reported earlier this year that LinkedIn is working on new tools that may overlap.
How would the Enterprise version of Facebook impact HR solution providers already in the business of communication and collaboration? Threat or partner? Once inside the corporate firewall will Facebook for Work be used for benefits communications, surveys, video conferencing, recruiting…..? Time will tell but HR vendors should be paying attention to Facebook for Work and taking it very seriously.
Who knows, we may even see Facebook exhibiting at the 2016 HR technology Conference and Exposition. Hmmmm.