Are you guilty of sneakily checking your Facebook account once (or twice… or ten times) a day whilst in work? Then nervously trying to explain to your boss that you were merely contacting a colleague of yours about that project the two of you are working on? It would appear that excuse may soon become somewhat believable for once as news has filtered through that Facebook are currently testing out a new version of the site called Facebook At Work.
The new version will be designed to allow colleagues to chat, share documents and connect with other professionals making it a rival to the likes of Google Drive, GChat and Linkedin. Staff working at Facebook have already been using the product for quite some time and it’s only recently that Mark Zuckerberg decided it was time to share it with the world. There are currently a number of companies running a beta version of the site before it’s rolled out to everyone in the next few months.
The announcement of Facebook at Work has been met with a mixed reception in the media with many pointing to an interview Zuckerberg did with David KirkPatrick in his book The Facebook Effect, in which the Facebook founder explained; “You have one identity.The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Clearly Facebook at Work is encouraging people to have two separate personas. A personal one, and a private one. So why the sudden u-turn?
In a week which saw ephemeral messaging app Snapchat launch their new money transfer service, Snapcash, simply put, money is the only reason. Since Facebook was floated (and subsequently tanked) on the stock exchange in 2012 there’s been huge pressure on the company to prove that they are still capable of creating exciting and innovative features to keep them ahead of the pack. It remains to be seen whether Facebook at Work will be an ad-based, free service or whether companies will have to pay a subscription fee to avail of it but one things for sure, Facebook are looking for money. Of course, despite his obvious change of heart, Zuckerberg’s decision to pursue the release of Facebook at Work is an understandable one. One must do what’s best for business.
If we’re being perfectly honest, the idea of having the best aspects of Google Drive, GChat and Linkedin all in the one place is a pretty enticing one. Facebook is known for their easily accessible user interface which LinkedIn doesn’t come close to achieving, in our experience. Employers may still see Facebook at Work as a distraction but the reams of funny videos, selfies and cute cat pictures will be no more, paving the way a more work-focused social media which is more likely to increase productivity than impact on it negatively. We await its launch with bated breath. In the mean time, however, we’re off to watch that cute, fluffy, baby otter video for the umpteenth time today. Don’t tell anyone.
Follow @NiallMacSuain on Twitter.