If you've ever sneaked onto Facebook at work, it might be strange to think that the social network could be a legitimate part of your professional life. But a report from TechCrunch indicates that that's exactly what's next. Except this version of Facebook won't be so distracting.
TechCrunch spoke to a source inside Facebook who said, “We are making work more fun and efficient by building an at-work version of Facebook.” The project is apparently called “FB@Work,” and the source says it's being developed out of Facebook London. TechCrunch cites a 2012 Quora question and answer as evidence of this, because it was written by a Facebook employee who now works in London, and describes Facebook's use of its own services for overall internal organization, team planning, and widespread employee communication.
Other anonymous Facebook employees and engineers who had recently left seem to confirm the rumor, or report hearing similar ones. The part that's unclear is whether FB@Work would be a separate enterprise service, or some type of add-on/parallel experience to normal Facebook. A separate product might have the drawbacks of services like Yammer, which are easy to use, but can be hard to add into workflows unless a company is really committed to making them an information hub.
Another option would be for Facebook to essentially become a LinkedIn competitor with added functions like chat and groups. Since so many people already check Facebook multiple times a day, it might be possible to integrate some type of separate but conveniently located work tab or mode. If it was easy to switch back and forth, people might actually check a work Facebook and post things to it. Facebook already has a lot of professional information from its users, many of whom list their education and post their current job plus some or all of their employment history. And creating a work platform would only allow Facebook to collect more valuable data for more narrowly targeted ads.
A major obstacle would be keeping people's personal and professional data separate. People are already wary of posting things on Facebook that could negatively affect them at work or even get them fired. Using Facebook at work and home could get confusing or lead to dangerous crossovers. Presumably Facebook would try to address this concern and use FB@Work to combat Facebook's casual reputation, but it would be difficult to overcome.
Facebook that's work-approved does sound pretty tempting, though.