The company has so far been mum about “Facebook at Work.” However, the Financial Times, which disclosed the secret project, said it is designed as a collaboration tool, allowing users to share documents, communicate with colleagues, and build networks of professional contacts. Because it will enable users to keep their social network completely separate from their professional one, the new service is being considered a competitor to LinkedIn and to services from Google and Microsoft.
The Financial Times said the site will closely resemble Facebook and will include the familiar newsfeed and groups. Dubbed Facebook at Work, according to the FT, some of the development work was done in London and is now in beta testing by companies.
The FT article suggests that Facebook at Work could directly compete with collaboration tools from some of the biggest names in tech:
- Microsoft bought Yammer in 2012 for $1.2 billion, promoting it as a workplace collaboration and social tool. It offers its own style of news feed, uses hashtags, allows groups, and permits “Likes.”
- Google makes its document sharing Google Drive freely available, and it integrates almost seamlessly with other Google products including Gmail and Google+.
However, it is LinkedIn that’s being cited as facing the stiffest challenge from FB@Work. Just how the hugely successful social network would face off against the hugely successful professional network isn’t specifically detailed in most of the posts today. Just on sheer numbers, Facebook dwarfs LinkedIn. Its monthly user engagement is 1.3 billion, according to Forbes. LinkedIn says it has 90 million monthly unique users.
Unlike LinkedIn, which carries little baggage over privacy and professionalism, Facebook will have to fight to gain workplace acceptance. Almost 20 percent of employees can’t access Facebook at work, according to data from Statista. Half that are banned from LinkedIn.