Facebook has created a new empire over the last six months. It has nothing to do with Snapchat or even virtual reality, and it’s not just about video.
Facebook Workplace is the social network’s effort to get serious about getting into the business world, and Facebook is making a serious push.
The Workplace platform connects businesses internally, where companies can pay for or (as of this latest update) use a free version of a software that looks and functions similarly to Facebook but is bolstered with a more work-oriented tools.
Workplace is already used by about 14,000 organizations in 77 languages and in every country, including Antarctica, Facebook announced Tuesday in time with their annual developers conference, F8.
Clients include Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks along with startups. Starbucks, for example, uses it to broadcast weekly live videos from the CEO and for managers to check in with employees.
Facebook announced new features Tuesday that it hopes will make Workplace a much more appealing product. Prior to this week, Workplace included multi-company Groups, live video, reactions, auto-translate, video and group audio calling, trending posts, and search filters.
As of Tuesday, Workplace offers new file-sharing integrations, including Salesforce, Quip, and Box. Notably, Dropbox is absent from the initial release.
Facebook is also introducing bots into Workplace. Developers can build bots for work chat and for Groups to do tasks like help order food or order a Lyft.
“Bots help people weave Workplace into their daily workflow. At Facebook, we have over 100 of these bots helping people be more productive,” said Simon Cross, product manager for Workplace.
Facebook is also integrated with eDiscovery and compliance partners to help with exporting documents, making it a better product for companies that have regulatory restrictions and are traditionally unable to use third-party software.
Workplace users can also soon broadcast live video from professional video gear.
The best selling point for Workplace, according to Facebook, continues to be that its so easy to sign up for and to use — because everyone already knows how to use Facebook.
“Everyone knows how to use it straight away,” Cross said. “It’s a modern communication layer of a company and connecting people in a way they’ve never been connected before.”
Cross has worked at Facebook for the last six and a half years, and to him, Workplace is one of the most important projects the company has ever done. Obviously, he’s biased, but he moved onto the team due to his fascination with Facebook’s own use of Facebook during work.
“When I joined Facebook in 2010, Facebook ran on email. We started using groups in 2011 and 2012. It fundamentally changed how Facebook works, the speed at which we can make decisions and how close we feel too each other,” Cross said.
“I cannot imagine working anywhere without it. What’s humbling about this thing is companies are telling us the same thing,” he continued.
What’s next for Facebook Workplace is making it even easier for companies — especially those companies without a lot of money and developers, even businesses where not everyone has a laptop or an email address.
Cross used the example of workers on the store floor of Starbucks. “They should be listening to customers. In those environments, it’s all about the thing in your pocket, putting those in the hands of people on the shop floor, in factories, in fields,” Cross said.