Most people use Facebook to waste time at work. Facebook employees, however, use it to get work done, reportedly using a special internal version of the social network to send messages, collaborate on documents, and upload files.
And soon, the product could become available for people outside of the company to use. The Financial Times reports that Facebook is looking into making its internal office platform—code-named “Facebook at Work”—into a fully realized product–an unholy, Facebook-blue amalgamation of LinkedIn, Yammer, and Slack.
The Silicon Valley company is developing a new product designed to allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents, competing with Google Drive and Microsoft Office, according to people familiar with the matter.
The new site will look very much like Facebook – with a newsfeed and groups – but will allow users to keep their personal profile with its holiday photos, political rants and silly videos separate from their work identity. Facebook declined to comment.
It’s worth mentioning that Slack, the white-hot chat system used by dozens of corporate clients, including Fast Company, is estimated to be worth north of $1 billion. Facebook sees enterprise dollar-signs in its billion-plus user base.
Facebook at Work, however, would have a few things going against it. Privacy controls will be a big one. If normal ol’ Facebook comes across as confusing for people, will big corporate offices trust Facebook to handle whatever secret projects they’re working on?
And Facebook’s more derivative products like Facebook email, as well as its multiple copycats of Snapchat, have not performed particularly well, largely because users have no qualms about spreading the different facets of their online identities across different platforms. They’ll use Facebook to post status updates for family, Snapchat to waste time with a few close friends, Instagram to post vacation photos, and Twitter to talk to strangers. At the office they’ll use Slack to send messages, Google Docs to house all their documents, and email to pretend they’re busy when they’re not actually doing anything.
And that’s the main challenge Facebook will be facing: Today’s customers don’t seem to want a single, do-everything app that lumps the different fragments of their online lives together. Even—especially, maybe—if it is Facebook-branded.