Reasons to Take Workplace with a Grain of Salt


Social media giant Facebook is making waves this week after the launch of its new social media platform, Workplace, and business messaging app, Work Chat. Having been in private beta testing for the last year, the platform’s debut is raising some significant interest in the business world.

Interestingly enough, Workplace is making bold claims on its FAQs page, stating companies can “eliminate or drastically reduce their need for internal collaboration tools such as their intranet, telephony systems, video conferencing, and distribution lists” with the new social media platform and mobile app.

As a business communications company, we’re in total agreement that consolidating communications into a single platform is no doubt a productive shift; however, we also believe Work Chat and Workplace are far from replacing internal business telephony systems, video conferencing clients, and the like—and businesses should approach these claims with caution.

Understandably, the key term Facebook uses here is “internal communications” and not “external communications” as the platform does not provide employees with official business numbers or professional conferencing capabilities, for example. If anything, Workplace is specifically positioning itself as an informal collaboration tool rather than an official communications solution. That we completely understand.

However, since that’s the case, companies leveraging Workplace still require separate services to satisfy their external communications needs anyway, and would therefore not be simplifying company services in the least. Since most business communications services (like DOTVOX) centralize both internal AND external communication methods into a single platform already, adopting Workplace appears to add yet another communications service rather than cut unwanted fat. We understand Workplace is certainly a good way for companies to centralize internal chat—and perhaps we’re taking their claims too seriously—we still believe the product promises more than it can realistically deliver.

To be fair, Workplace’s Work Chat app does offer all the communication and collaboration features one would need in a business mobility solution, including the ability to stream live video, engage in group video chats, make audio calls, text message, and even share files with colleagues on any computer or mobile device—which is a nice perk for some companies.  Even if the app doesn’t necessarily outmaneuver other enterprise chat services such as Slack, Yammer (Microsoft), and Chatter (Salesforce), it’s still a particularly attractive option for businesses and users already familiar and comfortable with Facebook Messenger’s user interface and controls—allowing for a relatively short learning curve during its adoption. But, again, will Workplace and Workchat replace the chat tools already in place at your company? We doubt it.

So, whether or not you find Facebook’s new Workplace digs and Work Chat app useful or productive is still completely up to you. If you do decide to adopt the exciting new platform to boost company collaboration, however, we recommend leaving your business-critical needs to the business-critical professionals—and to not forget that Workplace is, after all, still Facebook.

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