The social network that sucks up hours of your work day may soon be one of your company's critical productivity tools. Facebook is today launching its office-focused collaborative app on the web, Android, and iOS. Despite its imminent presence in Google Play and the App Store, Facebook at Work, which we heard about a few months ago, will only be available to a limited number of companies involved in a small pilot to start. Facebook says its latest software remains early in development, which may explain why only a few partners are participating for now. The app looks and feels like the Facebook everyone's already acclimated with, but there are no ads in the "At Work" version, nor does Facebook keep track of any corporate user data, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Rather than making people endure endless office email chains, Facebook seems to think it's found a better way. Existing features like groups, events, messaging, and even the news feed will translate well into furthering office productivity, the company believes. There will be clear separation between professional and personal profiles; Facebook At Work accounts aren't visible to people outside pilot companies, for instance, so you don't need to worry about posting sensitive data for the whole world to see.
With Facebook At Work, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. will be taking on office heavyweights like Microsoft and Google — the company is also challenging popular tools like Yammer (owned by Microsoft) and Slack. It's not clear how the social network plans to profit from At Work; so far, there've been no details on whether Facebook ultimately plans to charge businesses to use it or what those rates would be. But the first step is getting in the door, and Facebook's beginning that effort today.