Much to the chagrin of project managers and bosses everywhere, Facebook has already established a position in the workplace. If being honest, most of us would admit to checking our feed for updates or commenting on the adorableness of the latest cat video posted by a friend of relative before going back to our daily work. Facebook has become a big enough drain on productivity that many companies have outright blocked access to social media sites at the workplace altogether.
Studies tend to back up the notion that social networking goes on during the typical workday. The highest traffic on the network occurs mid-week between 1 to 3 pm, according to the social media marketing firm Bitly, and the average Facebook session takes about 20 minutes. Clearly many users turn to Facebook to tune out briefly from their work responsibilities.
Now, however, Facebook may finally be welcomed into the workplace as a recent report from the Financial Times states that the company is working on a new website – appropriately titled ‘Facebook for Work’ – that seeks to transform the social network from a drain on productivity to a productivity booster.
The new website, which the Times reports will have a very similar appearance to the original Facebook, including the inclusion of favorite features like groups and newsfeeds, will allow employees to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts (uh-oh, LinkedIn!) and work together on shared documents (look out, Microsoft Office and Google Drive). To avoid any NSFW moments, users will be able to keep their personal profiles completely separate.
While employees at Facebook have already been using the interface for some time, the company is now beta testing its new product as a launch date quickly approaches, reports the Times.
So far, Facebook has declined to confirm the existence or possible launch date of ‘Facebook for Work.’
If the use of the site gains traction as a productive workplace tool, and companies start to encourage the use of Facebook instead of banning social media entirely from the office, it would signify a significant boost to the amount to time many people spend using the social network. As was noted in the Financial Times report, since Facebook generates the majority of its profits from advertising, this new platform has the potential to dramatically improve the company’s bottom line.
However, many businesses may be a little leery of officially sanctioning Facebook in the workplace. In addition to advertising, Facebook generates a considerable amount of revenue from collecting user data, a fact that may give businesses a reason to pause prior to deciding to share sensitive documents on the new social networking platform.