Technology

Facebook opens up Workplace in bid to replace work emails

Workplace by Facebook Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Workplace looks similar to Facebook

Facebook has opened up its Workplace platform, which lets companies set up their own internal version of the social network, to all businesses.

The app looks similar to Facebook, with features such as live video streaming and messaging, but is kept completely separate from users' personal profiles.

It is designed to replace other business tools such as email.

One analyst said the platform would pose a challenge to a broad range of rival services.

It will enter the same market as services such as Yammer - Microsoft's self-contained social network that businesses can use internally - and Slack - a collaborative messaging tool.

"It's not just about building a self-contained social network for businesses," said Chris Green of the Lewis consultancy.

"It lets them compete with a variety of different services - such as Google Cloud's file sharing and Microsoft's collaborative document editing.

"It's going to hit a number of environments with one integrated product."

Subscription fee

The social network has been testing Workplace, previously known as Facebook at Work, for two years and said that more than 1,000 businesses were already using it.

In a statement, the company said: "We've seen that just as Facebook keeps you connected to friends and family, it can do the same with co-workers. We've brought the best of Facebook to the workplace."

Food giant Danone, India's Yes Bank, the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, and Starbucks are among those that have already deployed the app.

Workplace is Facebook's first service to charge a subscription fee, a deviation from the company's usual advertising-funded model.

An employee's Workplace account is kept entirely separate from any personal Facebook profile they may use to share content outside work.

"We've seen a growth in interest in the idea of bringing a social network into the corporate environment," said Mr Green.

"The millennial workforce is important to employers, so having systems that are familiar and replicate what they use in their personal life makes sense."

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