Social media has been around long enough now that most of us have experienced that awkward moment when we receive an unwanted Facebook invitation from a colleague or even a superior at work. It’s a classic lose-lose scenario – accepting the invitation can mean a loss of privacy, while a friendship decline can send the wrong message, and carry its own negative ramifications.
It’s an inevitable part of living in a world increasingly inundated with social media, and many of us have learned to adjust (and readjust) to the ever-changing Facebook settings in the hopes of maintaining a minimum level of privacy and separation between our professional and personal lives. With Facebook’s limited debut of Facebook at Work on January 14, the lines between home and office may be blurring once again.
Not to be confused with “on the down low” employee Facebook activity that employers have historically curbed and even blocked in the not so distant past, the new Facebook platform was developed specifically for workplace sharing and collaboration.
Currently only available via desktop computer or a free iPhone app to select users participating in the platform’s pilot, Facebook at Work resembles the original Facebook and contains many of its classic features. But the social media giant is clear that it’s a separate entity reconfigured for the office space. Here’s what we know so far.
Facebook at Work has mostly maintained its iconic look, feel, and layout while trading Facebook’s trademark blue for a white color scheme. Most of the popular features such as the newsfeed, events, groups, and messaging have also been retained. Facebook believes that groups have particular potential, and can provide a viable alternative to cumbersome company email distribution lists.
Workplace users can still personalize their about sections, cover, and profile photos. Much of the remaining data, such as title and contact information, will be prepopulated and managed by their employer who will also have access to all employee Facebook at Work data. Facebook, however, says it won’t maintain or track user data, and is currently offering an ad-free space.
For user convenience, Facebook says it configured Facebook at Work so that users can link their work and personal accounts and easily toggle between platforms if they wish. Employers will not have access to employee’s personal usernames and passwords.
The Facebook at Work concept is nothing new to Facebook employees, who routinely use the social media tool to stay connected with colleagues – particularly those in other offices. They feel the toolset is a great fit for office networking.