Could Facebook at Work Change How You Use Microsoft Office?

This Distinct Collaboration Environment Takes On Office 365, Outlook, and Skype

Facebook at Work and Your Productivity - Facebook (Boston)
Facebook at Work and Your Productivity - Facebook (Boston). (c) Courtesy of Facebook

Facebook at Work competes with other collaboration tools you may already use for businesses, organizations, and enterprise--including the cloud-integrated Office 365.

So how might Facebook at Work affect how you get things done, from creating and sharing documents to collaborating with your team?

How It's Different from Your Private Account

Facebook at Work is not just your private Facebook account used in a professional setting. 

Facebook at Work is a separate tool, though it can integrate with your existing business page or other online profiles. This is a kind of network just for your organization.

One of its advantages is that so many people already know Facebook and how to use it.

But while it resembles the private account you are likely using, Facebook at Work has differences. For example, you can follow people without their permission, which means you can't turn down a contact request by someone within your organization. "Friends" are not a thing when it comes to this version of Facebook.

What Facebook at Work Means for Your Office Software

Depending on whether you love or loathe Facebook's influence on modern culture, Facebook at Work may feel like social media is invading not just your personal life but your work life, too! 

It also raises an important question for IT leaders and small business owners. How will a tool like Facebook at Work affect your other productivity tools, including Microsoft Office?

So far, it looks like Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Skype are the main applications this version of Facebook competes with.

Facebook at Work is intended to streamline communication and collaboration, and does not provide applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for drafting documents. It can help support the collaboration efforts for your real-time collaboration in Microsoft Word 2016, for example. 

Office 365 is another area that could be affected by the potential popularity of Facebook at Work. As Microsoft's cloud environment, Office 365 includes not only the Office applications for desktop, cloud, or mobile, but also specialty project planning tools, data-driven collaboration tools like Office Graph and Office Delve, exclusive document creation tools such as Morph and Designer for PowerPoint, and more. 

What to Expect from the Experience: The Components

But what kind of information does Facebook at Work involve?

Just like private Facebook accounts, Facebook at Work helps you organize and customize topics, ideas, schedules, and more. Also like the Facebook account you probably already use, not everything can be curated or organized exactly as you wish. The experience will evolve as the service gains more development, but here is an overview.

Four types of information comprise Facebook at Work: messaging, newsfeeds, profiles, and groups (open, secret, and closed).

Let's look at each of these categories:

  • Messaging: If you use Facebook's instant messaging (IM) feature, this is similar to that or other services such as Skype. 
  • Newsfeeds: This gives each user a running list of new activities, tasks, meetings, or other information. If you have used 
  • Profiles: These are the individual identities within the larger work community. Each person in the organization sets up a unique profile along with an image and pertinent details, such as job title, teams, departments, or projects.  typically includes a photo and relevant employee information, like position and department. 
  • Groups: Open groups allow individuals to come together around a project or discussion point. These can be searched by anyone within the organization. Secret groups do not show up in search unless your profile is on the invite list. Finally, closed groups fall somewhere between the two, because they are searchable but can only be accessed by invitees.

This information works within a person's profile to increase communication throughout the organization.

How to Try Facebook at Work

As of March 2016, Facebook at Work is only available to several hundred select companies. However, you can share your interest here