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Facebook at Work (fb.com)
449 points by nichodges on Feb 3, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 286 comments

I've seen a couple of the "let's bring social networks to the workplace" products and quite frankly none have impressed me so far. The real problem is not providing great technology but actually getting people in corporate environments to use it in a meaningful way. These projects usually end in the same manner...network is rolled out, used for a couple of weeks and fades into obscurity rarely used (and often leaving an extra attack vector). Or in other words...most lose the battle to good old email.

That being said...this is potentially scary news for companies that are in the HR 2.0 business for lack of a better word. Typically their solutions have alumni management, stay in contact etc. that they tout. Well if your company has FB work and they later add the option to integrate private FB accounts of ex employees or something that's interesting. I know they say for now those are separate but I wouldn't be shocked if that changes eventually.

Edit: If they want to segment this they should have given it an entirely different name imo. I'm sure there are marketing people at FB that are way more brilliant than me but this seems like a typical positioning mistake. You think you need to rely on your powerful main brand when you really want to create a new brand because you're attacking a different positioning slot in customer's heads. Don't have my Ries/Trout book at hand but it sounds familiar enough that I'll browse through it at home.

I work in a small company where we wanted to use these actively. Reasons they fail:

- Nobody is sitting there waiting for their news feed to update.

- Nobody is posting information there as they would with friends because THEY ARE AT WORK, they worry their boss will see something stupid. This is why memes and other things rarely get posted on work networks.

- Nobody wants to seem like they are slacking off talking on social networks instead of working (even on the work one).

- No memes and other fun related things, nobody cares and nobody checks.

Slack on the other hand was a huge hit. We have a few groups of like minded people who just chat it up. Usually for short bursts. Everyone prefers it over the social network tools. And everyone stays active in it.

A major feature is the notification that someone sent you a direct message (might be important) or sent a message to a room (meh) or sent a message to a muted room (probably not important).

In another comment[1] I mentioned I've found use of a work social network valuable/meaningful - I think part of the reason our observations/experiences are so different is that you work in a small company and I at a large one. Not everyone can be expected to make use of it (much like not everyone uses social media outside of work) so I think for it to succeed the company has to be of sufficient size so that the portion using the social network is enough to provide value.

As for some of your specific points:

> Nobody is sitting there waiting for their news feed to update.

I check the feed in the morning and usually again in the afternoon. It's not expected to be something you stare at for eight hours a day.

> Nobody wants to seem like they are slacking off talking on social networks instead of working (even on the work one).

Think that's more of a company culture issue - our use of it is appreciated/encouraged.

> No memes and other fun related things, nobody cares and nobody checks.

The vast majority of posts are work-related but we have plenty of groups strictly for non-work/fun purposes (e.g. we have a group for discussing video games).

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11026577

Upvoted for the positioning part: brand extension is almost always a mistake. In this case maybe they want to leverage the fact that almost everyone has fb, but in the mind of users fb is not associated with "work". And it's likely to hurt their main brand because it will drain more "coolness" out of it.

Or, as is already the case with a lot of us millenials: We have fb. Everyone we know has fb. Everyone we get to know is added to fb. There is no distinction between private life and work life. Fb is where we keep track of who we know. Fb is where we ask around if anyone knows of a company looking for a person. Fb is where we ask around if any person is looking for a company. Fb is where we group text. Fb is where we do all serious social networking.

The first thing that happens when joining a new company is that everyone sends me Fb friend requests.

That said, it looks like Slack is doing a great job of replacing email for in-office communication.

Don't be so sure your experience matches everyone else's. The 'we' you mentioned does not include me. I will add all my work contacts on LinkedIn but I will only add a few (about 5%) on FB; ones who I socialise with outside of work.

I am just glad the constant linkedin is not facebook posts might stop. I don't understand why people keep these people as contacts if they feel that is detracts from their professionalism. My circle is small, but I have seen 3 facebook type posts (solve x or whatever) and now one to two a day to stop treating this like facebook posts.

True. That part probably depends on how big are the companies you work for.

It seems very customary to add at least everyone on your direct team to Fb though.

I don't find that to be the case either. Anecdotal, obviously, but I've worked for companies that range in size and I never add anyone from work on Facebook. Same goes for my wife.

We joined Facebook in the early days when you needed a .edu email address to join, so I've got a lot of college partying photos up there. I've always seen it more of a private space. Not sure if the time you join and your original perception of the service changes your use.

> I never add anyone from work on Facebook. Same goes for my wife.

Wise choice, although I'm sure she has other ways of seeing what you get up to.

I am very methodical about when I add coworkers to my (private) Facebook profile: the day after I leave.

I see my coworkers for approximately 1/3 of my entire week. If I have a question for them it can wait until tomorrow/Monday. I have nothing to gain by them having access to photos of me at a bar with friends or pictures of me at a half marathon or something.

I would be very unhappy if a coworker added me on FB immediately after joining, and I'm the kind of person who's okay with having some coworkers as FB friends. I probably don't know them, and now I'm in a position where I need to reject an offer of friendship from them.

Screw that.

Hell no.

Like the other replies, I do not do this. I work in the .edu sector if that makes any difference.

I don't know about you, but my FB is a free speech zone. I don't think that overlaps well with FB at Work in terms of usage and social patterns.

I live in Germany. My facebook is most certainly not a free speech zone. Forums aren't even free speech zones.

My FB is also a free speech zone. But so is my workplace. If someone doesn't like the things I like to say, then they shouldn't talk to me.

I would never add someone from my work at facebook. Not before we become very good friends... In fact, I have only 2 or 3 people from my past 5 years working on my facebook.

Ugh, speak for yourself. The idea of having my work and personal identities become that interconnected just makes my skin crawl.

That said, I've long since resigned myself to the fact that I'm probably a rather poor representative of this generational group in which my birthday happens to fall.

There is no distinction between private life and work life

This seems like an often repeated claim that has never really been proven in any meaningful way.

Off topic: "Millenial" is usually used as a borderline epithet. Don't call yourself that.

Slack's been incredibly successful of late. You might not think of it as a 'social network', but it does most of what Facebook at Work is advertising itself as.

Slack is definitely a better option than Facebook at Work in my opinion. Social networks are a time suck at best and marketing one to an enterprise is simply inviting cynicism and negativity from those people that actually have work to do (obviously almost everyone except HR).

Slack is not positioned as a social network but as a productivity and collaboration tool, a role it fulfils really well.

If I had to choose I would pick Slack over Facebook at Work any day of the week.

My first thought was Slack must have turned down Facebook's offer, thank the gods. It's not too weird to ask coworkers to sign up for Slack, but it would be really weird and probably unacceptable to ask someone who works for you to sign up for Facebook for all kinds of reasons. I'd feel more comfortable requiring employees to use Reddit at work, seriously.

I have used both options quite intensively for more than six months each (both Facebook internal tools at Facebook, and Facebook at Work at Facebook; I am probably one of the very few who has and has no direct financial interest in either company) and Facebook at Work is significantly richer in features than Slack — notably longer posts that allow to explain, argue, compare. It is useful up to the point where meeting (outside of creative explorations) become non-essential.

Slack is great for quick-reaction and coordinated team org, but not suggest features, walk people through non-trivial decision, structure posts and comments.


Atlassian Confluence is also great. It's built around planning and idea/document management but has a lot of social elements like a company-wide questions board, a blog, notifications (@user), etc.

> The real problem is not providing great technology but actually getting people in corporate environments to use it in a meaningful way.

At VMware we use SocialCast[1] (not sure if we used it before we bought them or not, that was before my time) and it's certainly used in a "meaningful way". Not everyone in the company uses it regularly but certainly more than enough for a sufficient critical mass that if you have a question you can ask it in the appropriate group(s) and you'll most likely have an answer within hours (and often minutes).

[1] http://socialcast.com/

I think it can be tough for folks to disrupt enterprise collaboration when they try to attack it with consumer social networking. Do I want to chat with coworkers all day and be bombarded by notifications? I like not being able to get to my personal Facebook when I'm at the office and we know that multitasking productively is a myth at best and may actively reduce our mental performance[1][2].

The thing is, the biggest component of enterprise collaboration is information and knowledge management. If Facebook is leveraging its existing information management feature set this platform would be a no-go for me, because their whole set-up is designed to push new information at you and bury anything else as soon as possible. As well, chat or groups without file/information/data management features is a quarter-measure.

1: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/august24/multitask-resear...

2: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-wise/201209/the-t...

As mentioned in your first paragraph is exactly what has happened in our mega-corp. People are too afraid to post anything general to the entire corp public, and anything they need to talk to specific people about they use IM or Email.

I have been trying "Facebook at Work" at work. As we already had a Facebook group for the company it made sense.

This is not a tool to compete with LinkedIn. It is a tool that competes with e-mail/mail lists.

Somethings now make much more sense. From a security point of view, in a company over one thousand employees, it is easier to add or remove employees as they are hired or they left the company. Also it is easier to share work content for a limited audience while using your private Facebook account in a more casual way.

The main problem is that people doesn't have so much interest in checking what's in there. We have already other communication methods like the old good mail. So "Facebook at Work" is just another one to add to the list.

If you add it to your phone - I have done that - you will get notifications as the usual app. One of the problems is that you also will get them on weekends or when on vacations. That is not ideal.

As any social tool it requires a lot of fine tuning and also to match the culture and preferences of the company. Probably it is a good move for Facebook taking into account cost/benefit, but it is never easy with social tools as Facebook competitors have seen in the past.

Another tool which competes with emails is Atlassian Confluence, and they've nailed the "social networky" part. When discussing the idea of becoming a newsfeed-based social network for work with PMs there, they reject it: They're an intranet, you do your work there, attach documents, write reports, people get notified, they know your status, you check out their profiles, it all sounds like a social network BUT you actually do your job inside of it. I believe, that's the right way to make an social network sticky.

We use Confluence, but mostly for semi-static content like documentation, contact information for teams, etc. The Confluence blogs are nice but they also have the problem of how much people reads them. Facebook is used in a more casual way. So you can post about the game club, or a company party or even re-share cat pictures. Something that usually matters only for a short time spawn or is just social in nature.

So now the idea is to do your sensitive internal communications via facebook?

It's not worse than Slack, is it?

I guess it depends on how sensitive they are. I'd warrant that 99% of communications aren't sensitive enough to bear in mind whatever risk you're implying. And really 'sensitive' communications probably shouldn't even take place by email, but face-to-face.

I don't know the technical details.

But the idea is to share the same kind of things that we shared in the Facebook group. We post about trainings, company social events, game clubs, meet ups, etc. Nothing is super-secret.

As code repository, for example, we use an on-premisses GitHub Enterprise.

I agree with your sentiments.

In our company, communication is already highly splintered. We have so many ways of communicating, posting, sharing and chatting that nobody knows what is going on. It is also very distracting and time consuming. It is nearly impossible to do a conference over chat protocols now. Everyone wants to use "their own thing". It has become far worse than a TED talk I saw on meetings.

There is an option in F@W to deactivate alerts during week-ends and holidays.

Does messenger also consider all this stuff? I could imagine it somewhat well in that case (well, so long as you're not pasting huge code blocks)

We don't use it. As we already use another tool for instant messaging. But looks like there is: http://techcrunch.com/2015/11/20/facebook-at-work-gets-its-o...

So... Yammer?

FB Work: Groups help you make decisions and keep your team on the same page.

Yammer: Organize all your team communication in one place with Yammer Groups. Create a single destination for your messages, files, and updates, where everyone has a view of what's going on without all the usual back-and-forth.

FB Work: Get through to the people you need right away with Work Chat.

Yammer: Spend less time crafting perfect emails, and more time doing. Conversations in Yammer make it easy to quickly share information on a topic, have active discussions around it, and agree on next steps.

FB Work: Find the answers, past group posts or the files you need using search.

Yammer: Find what you need, right when you need it. Yammer seamlessly enables connections to people and information from across your organization that you never knew existed, making it easier to move your work forward.

FB Work: As a Facebook at Work customer, you also have controls to manage your organization’s data how you see fit.

Yammer: Public Groups for working in the open; Private Groups for sensitive ideas. Safely collaborate with partners and customers with External Groups.

Yep. Yammer.

Interestingly, Microsoft announced [1] yesterday that they're turning on Yammer by default to all Office365 customers for free.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2016/02/02/microsoft-is-enabling-yamm...

It's so good they have to give it away...

I have tried to use Yammer at work, but found the apps and web interface quite poor. It didn't seem reconnect properly after being offline, mobile app didn't always notify me, also the chatwindows on the webclient where quite annoying to use.

They've made some recent changes to the product and are positioning the product to be more of an email competitor. I have most of these problems with Yammer but I feel like they're moving in the right directions and are actually addressing some of these problems you mentioned above.

DISCLAIMER: Friends with a Yammer enployee

but I don't use Yammer

Neither do Yammer subscribers.

Neither does anyone at Microsoft

I work at MS, I use Yammer daily for archival style conversations

what is Yammer?

Facebook at Work

this is gold ;)

Seriously, though, go check out the Yammer UI and you'll quickly see that it is a blatant clone of Facebook. Then again, this goes for most of the competitors in that space, whether it's Salesforce Chatter, IBM's Connect, or whatever else.

source: messed around with all these things to build automated compliance and archiving products.

I work at ININ, we have a similar product, though we layer contact-center functionality on top of it (and we have a lot of other features too).


With Yammer and Office 365 integration (and typical enterprise Office 365 subscriptions), the built-in connections with Skype for Business née Lync and Outlook's unified communications (plus SharePoint or OneDrive for Business née SkyDrive Pro for files) seems to cover what ININ offers.

Of course, that's for those that drink deeply from the Microsoft Kool Aid fountain, which I recognize as a group that isn't recognized fully on HN. ININ looks like a nice unified communications system.

This is a product I would actively shun.

For better of worse, my prejudice of facebook is that it is an outstanding source of the following types of content:

Humblebrag b.s. instagram photos

passive aggressive shitposting about politics

I can use social networks at work- but if they actually brought facebook in and demanded that we used it, I might consider quitting. I'd probably write a python script to repost random technical shit from a reasonable set of Twitter sources. But no way would I be happy about bringing facebook into my office.

Do you really think people would post the same stuff to their 'work feed' as their 'personal feed'?

Actually you know what.. probably

I didn't even realize it happening, but that's exactly what my LinkedIn feed has become, complete with memes and motivational JPGs.

What you found on Facebook at Work at Facebook were mostly very thoughtful product and engineering discussions: data-based arguments and clear articulation of company decisions.

You need higher-ups to start the trend, and answer tough questions candidly, but once that is the case, people with things to say will put forward similarly clear and pointed arguments.

Suppose you had to choose between Facebook and Sharepoint? Or maybe a really field-besotted Jira.

The user experience of SharePoint is so bad that MS should consider pursuing a patent for "a method for shitposting deterrence."

You'll need to qualify that critique, because the SharePoint installs I've consulted on have ended up with quite a high acceptance and use rate and have seen employees self-elect (without forcing them) to stop using email and shared drives for file collaboration).

It's possible your experience with SharePoint was more an issue with who configured it. Or that you're thinking of SP2007?

SharePoint is really good for shared files. But that is what it was created for. It is called Microsoft Office SharePoint. If you turn on Publishing Pages you can make is work as in intranet portal. But you have to work at it, there is a bit of friction involved in doing something as seemingly simple as making a webpage. The issue tracker/tasks feature is... "usable". I wouldn't use SharePoint for anything else than those features.

P.S. I've been involved in rollouts (as a subsite admin, not IT) of SP2007 and SP2013.

Exactly this. I want to clarify- I'm not a sharepoint hater. It just has some uglies that prevent people from easily posting stupid things.

If you are going to post something stupid, you have to be MOTIVATED to do so on sharepoint.

> It just has some uglies that prevent people from easily posting stupid things.

> If you are going to post something stupid, you have to be MOTIVATED to do so on sharepoint.

I suppose I'd call that a feature, then :)

My company (50k+ employees) still uses SP2007. It is frighteningly painful to use. Slow, asks me to log in multiple times, etc.

Problem is in any large organization the real (and inevitable) choice is "all of the above"

Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/927/

The only way to win is not to play the game.

Those posts aren't coming from facebook - they're coming from the people you choose to add as friends. I choose my friends carefully, and my news feed has none of that :)

Absolutely. I've seen people complain about this on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, and so on. It always always ALWAYS comes down to who the people follow or connect to. It's like blaming the phone for a rude caller. The medium is not the problem. The correlation between shitbird friends and shitbird posts on your social media is very high. The only reason people notice is because they're looking at their friends' behavior in a new context, instead of the context(s) where they had become habituated to it. Clue train: some of your college friends don't seem so cool when you're all grown-up and sober.

Also, while you can blame your shitty Twitter or Quora experience on "random Internet strangers" posting crap, your Facebook feed is literally who you associate with in real life. It's a pretty decent mirror. Looking at it may be uncomfortable, so people blame the medium instead.

This. Quality of your feed reveals the a) quality of the people you associate with, and b) quality of your interest (what doesn't come from your friends comes from fanpages you liked).

Note that you can use various controls to mute the kind of posts you don't like and encourage ones you like. Facebook feed is kind of like a mirror of oneself ;).

Your prejudice is wrong. I see nothing of that on my feed.

Sounds like you might need to unfollow a few people

I clicked this hopeful that Facebook had made a new product tailored to the needs of an office. Instead it seems like they recently decided that their existing product just happens to already be the perfect product for the office and rebranded it.

I don't buy this at all, teams don't actually collaborate by sending each other green giraffe stickers.

Facebook actually uses Facebook heavily internally. Groups, calendars, etc. It's certainly not a mandate, it's used because it works for them.

I'd argue that they consciously make it work for them internally, despite lots of pain points solved by other tools better suited for the job.

For example, Zuck says he runs the company via Messenger - but a chat tool without selective muting/@mentions (or equivalent) is bound to be messy at the scale at which he's working. Similarly, Facebook's group chat isn't the best archival tool, nor does it support features like merging posts or transferring them from one group to another.

You're assuming that Facebook internal is the same, feature by feature, as commercial Facebook. I promise you it isn't.

If they turned that version into a service that could run on-premises, inside a company's network, then I think they could have a real chance at becoming the communication and coordination medium for most companies.

> For example, Zuck says he runs the company via Messenger - but a chat tool without selective muting/@mentions (or equivalent) is bound to be messy at the scale at which he's working.

He does; he’s a bit of an outlier in how he can handle intense communications, but Messenger at his scale is not less manageable than e-mail — it mainly encourages extreme brevity.

The information filtering is done using groups and notification that allow everyone to target their attention; his is focused on high-level groups that distill details from other working groups.

There's no mandate in my company that users stick with Google Apps for calendars, groups, document sharing, etc. But any department that went with their own tool for any of that would be their Island that wouldn't interoperate with the rest of the office.

That doesn't mean that Google Apps is the best tool, or even that it works well for everyone, but it means that people are willing to put up with a less than perfect solution that's integrated with the rest of the company.

So a kind of vendor lockin.

Of course in the above FB scenario this is not a problem because they're the vendor.

I can see that working wonderfully for Facebook, because it's all internal. But other companies can't really do that, because it's not okay for most other employees at most other companies to do all of their work-related coordination through a third-party.

> It's certainly not a mandate, it's used because it works for them.

It actually is. The vast majority of essential information is in there; HR tools, some IT stuff is based on integration with the Facebook codebase.

They're probably thinking that since so many people are familiar with facebook's UX, it can become the baseline for an office collaboration tool (one with a very small learning curve).

This seems like the kind of safe and boring product you'd make while trying not to get fired before your options vest. As they'd say in the wine industry, "it's well made."

People who use Slack do.

To clarify it's not that emoticons can't be part of how people communicate at work. I just couldn't really believe those exchanges they were showing there. Slack puts the whole conversation right in front of you and makes link and searching really comfortable. The fb share box really isn't meant for that.

Slack charges. When is "Work" going to end up like Parse?

My guess is "Work" is a ploy to get Facebook un-blocked by corporate firewalls.

The business functionality has already existed (since FB uses its own platform internally), so its comparatively minor in engineering effort.

Ha! Nice theory!

No seriously, that's pretty brilliant.

Except that it's on a different domain and won't affect the facebook block.

In fact, this would actually force people to block FB. The worst thing to happen would be for someone to post important information related to company on their personal feed by mistake. If they can login to both the accounts, this is very much possible. Unless, of course, FB for work looks dramatically different from original FB. I don't know, I never tried.

I work for a Large Corp., and FB is not blocked. What is blocked are services like dropbox or google drive. But I can't imagine the security department would allow publishing work-related information to other company cloud.

Facebook At Work is not a free service.

Maybe they killed Parse because it wasn't all about keeping people in their walled garden, and enabled people to duplicate features of facebook. It could be in line with what they did with FBML & facebook apps.

A lot of companies use Booster or Yammer, so there is already a market for that.

It can be interesting to share some technical news or to organize social events (pizza day for the office, hiking week-end). It can be a nice additional source of revenue for Facebook.

My team sends gifs all the time in Slack

People collaborate using stickers (or memes) quite intensively in the last… three companies I worked for (very different from each other).

Some are casual references to insiders jokes, but all were generally clear enough to get the point across and funny enough to soften the blow of disagreeing. Positive reactions with the humour or intensity of an over-excited gif are great to convey not just a green light, but support from higher-ups.

There was a clear bias towards younger people in using those appropriately and consistently.

I agree, the only thing I can think of that this could be useful for is posting photos from last christmas party or collaborating on the next outing

You're right, teams don't collaborate by sending each other green giraffe stickers. I don't know how you got that idea in the first place. If your team only sends green giraffe stickers to each, you should probably leave your company.

We've used "Facebook for Work" at work. It is highly distracting in IMO.

One of the best productivity hacks is to never log into Facebook or any social accounts when at work. Now, we are working on it which keeps sending you notifications all day long and especially over the weekend.

You like or comment saying - "Awesome, well deserved." The 100 people are going to do the same too. It's super annoying.

This and the fact that you move on to your feed and then shitty videos, pics, buzzfeed and boom ! your whole afternoon is gone !

Personally, I would say that "One of the best productivity hacks is to never log into Facebook" -- EVER!


Not logging into HN is also a good one.

Yet here we are :) I do it to feel a little better about my productivity waste compared to reddit (and if I want to feel OK about reddit, it's /r/programming which is basically a crappier version of HN)

I'd thought FB for work is at least siloed from your personal FB. You get notifications from the personal account as well? Well now I know why they made it this way, since it'll drive the FB usage - even at work!


> You get notifications from the personal account as well?


This confirms my impression on the big downside of FFW. It brings the signal/noise problem to the office. It is the reason why I can't seem to embrace FB despite trying really hard.

I'm pretty sure this is going to be big. I think Slack is so successful not just because of the chat interface and the integrations, but because people reliably receive notifications, messages can contain attachments that are presented in a helpful way, and because it has good ways of organizing groups. Facebook has everything but the chat interface and the integrations. I don't see any reason for them not to add these.

I imagine it has its own appeal as most people in non-tech industries where Slack is unheard of understand Facebook. Plus it has the double whammy of servicing linkedin-like features. The video shows a fabric company if that says anything about who they're targeting. I don't think the HN crowd is who they're after.

Yes, what stood out to me in the OP video is it is targeted to normals. Whereas Slack has a startup/tech following.

Also, FB for Work has the biggest advantage from an Enterprise Software ever: they've already pre-trained 2 billion of the world's population on how to use it via the consumer version. Why not take advantage of that?

I agree! Although, I am curious about some of the privacy concerns that are being raised.

To further your point, I think Facebook's timeline dynamic complements Slack quite nicely. Slack is great for broad, real-time communication, whereas Facebook posts can be much more hyper-focused and the conversation can revolve around the specific topic over a long period of time.

For example, we have a development channel in our Slack. I can go back and browse through the chat log, but it's awkward to contribute a suggestion or thought to a conversation that happened yesterday. Everyone has moved on. Not the case on FB.

What if some features of Google Wave are added to slack so that threaded conversations can take place.

I'm not too familiar Google Wave. I was thinking about it a bit more before I went to bed last night, and the internet has always had chat and message-board style communication. They've always been complementary.

Slack _could_ try to tackle this, but I feel like it would need to be a different format than the chat room and it would be moving away from their strength.

Can I search my chat history in FB? I've wanted to do that many times but I couldn't find it in the UI

Yes, it's in the top right corner of full conversation mode (i.e. facebook.com/messages/<id-number>)

But Slack is a chat service. I'm struggling to imagine what I would ever want to see in my Work News Feed.

I take it you've never used Yammer, which was created as "Facebook for work" seven years ago. The Yammer news feed is actually a great way to stay generally aware of what's going on in your company across lots of different groups or functions. I'm an engineer and its nice to see what sales and customer support are worried about from time to time and occasionally chimein when I can be helpful. At my company we use chat for quick, immediate conversations, and Yammer for bigger, more in depth conversations about product or architecture or various business tactics.

I imagine Facebook for Work would happily fill a very similar role to Yammer, sitting comfortably alongside chat. Of course, they'll probably have a much easier time with distribution given the brand recognition.

This is the first time I've ever heard someone speak positively of Yammer.

Haha, I'm not entirely surprised. The UI is pretty dated, and overall it can be kind of janky sometimes.

I'm curious though, what aspects of it do you usually hear people complaining about?

When the first rolled it out and signed everyone up at my office people complained all the time about the spam in their mailboxes. Then we figured out how to delete our accounts. Now the only people who use it are those that are trying to impress someone by giving the image of participation.

Think knowledge base, all that information trapped inside Email which requires people to answer the same question 1000 times. Each one incomplete.

You want to solve that? Think "Wiki", not "News Feed".

It appears that this Facebook Work thing also includes a private work chat system somewhat comparable to Slack.

This ignores mountains of evidence that shows realtime, synchronous communication makes you less productive due to reducing (or eliminating) your ability to focus.

Do you have any sources? Not trying to be a dick but this sounds interesting.

There are some interesting links in this recent Economist article: http://www.economist.com/news/business/21688872-fashion-maki...

Example quote: "... interruptions, even short ones, increase the total time required to complete a task by a significant amount."

Including a book I'm going to check out, "Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World"

As an anecdote, this has definitely been my experience. And it's compounded by having numerous different media: phone, text, GroupMe, Slack, email, Facebook, Hangouts, and so on. At this point, there's not a single service anybody can use to immediately reach me, because I've pretty much conditioned myself not to read anything until I feel ready to be distracted. It's a mess.

It seems to be built primarily around asynchronous communication, not synchronous.

It's only asynchronous is you have willpower, which is finite and easily exhausted, and if there's no expectation of realtime response on the other end, which there nearly always is these days. Whoever comes out with a viable system that is explicitly async (like mailman, or a good secretary) will really benefit humanity.

It's like normal Facebook, which I don't think even the biggest of addicts treat as a synchronous system. The entire structure of the application is for you to post and consume updates at different times.

You're going to have a hard time convincing me that Facebook is synchronous when the entire power of News Feed (and what makes Facebook so much more powerful than Facebook) is its ability to keep you updated without requiring constant real-time attention.

It does not require constant attention, but in fact it is addictng for users and people do sit and refresh their feeds for extended periods of time, watch the live activity stream on the side, or engage in chat, etc. Facebook wants you to spend a lot of time on Facebook and optimizes for this. They do not expect people to quickly check the site and leave and I would suggest most people don't do that. Or they they do, but they do it so repeatedly (continuous partial attention) it's even worse.

Edit: I would just add that in an environment where every site action has some kind of real time notification tied to it, the async nature/expectation is greatly diminished. Especially in a work context. And so now you have to add 'good job!' and water cooler type notifications to that cognitive overhead too.

Check out TMail21 ("Power Threads for Teams". It is explicitly designed as an asynchronous communication platform. Furthermore, it is being integrated into all of the chat services like Slack, Hipchat etc. to avoid balkanization between chat and asynchronous communication.

I actively block Facebook at work with /etc/hosts and I would continue to do so if my workplace installed this.

I’ve used RescueTime and Freedom at work before joining Facebook, and Facebook at Work when I worked there, and you can filter between the work and the personal services quite effectively with a basic filter.

And so do I, along with Reddit and a few other sites. Should probably add HN to the list as well.

I would recommend RescueTime so you can see exactly where your time goes and how much time you spend on certain websites, etc.

two recommendations:

- Momentum for Google Chrome fixes the 'new tab' page so that it shows you what you want to focus on today rather than what you frequently get distracted by. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/momentum/laookkfkn...

- SelfControl for OSX blocks sites for a specified period of time. https://selfcontrolapp.com/

Whoa, a Chrome extension that doesn't require a permission to read everything everywhere. That's something I haven't seen before.

Facebook at Work actually allows for longer-term communication that are still fairly dynamic and contextual. There is a chatting system (Messenger) but most of the interactions happen through threaded comments in groups.

Absolutely. The biggest offenders which are: people talking on the phone or talking directly to other people when there are other tools for the job or even worse, synchronously engaging several people at the same time (meetings)

this is targeted towards people who like open-office ;)

This should have a [2015] or 2014 in the subject. This is not new, and is not really fully launched so its not really an interesting story for the most part.

(0) http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/25/facebook-at-work/ (1) http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/14/facebook-at-work-ios-androi...

This marketing page is new this week, at least.

Relevant piece of trivia: I went to a meetup at Facebook's London offices a few months back and heard a presentation from the FB @ Work lead. This may surprise some but FB @ Work was entirely built by their London team in London.

As you can imagine, they had to touch just about every part of the Facebook code base to make it happen. They still managed to pull it off despite being a "remote" team and unknown entity at first. Great to see some major engineering projects being owned here in the UK.

You make it sound like this was some sort of heroic effort. It is (probably well paid) developers doing their job. That's it. No need for a parade.

Do UK engineers command salaries anywhere near SV level though?

No, they don't on average. This has been discussed many times on HN. Apps like this are outsourced to UK offices to keep budgets low. I routinely get offers and recruiter calls from the UK, I usually don't respond to them because I know they can't match US salaries because none of them ever have for the comparable US job.

Then there's moving to England, and the EU-related red tape. I love visiting the UK, but I'd never want to live there. And I'm a total anglophile.

For the same price as a grad in the US, you can get an Impbridge post doctorate with 3 years post-doc experience. Get US investors, but hire engineers in UK.

I'd say it depends on who's paying. I've seen differences of close to £40K/year for my position.

London software engineers can command higher salaries than elsewhere in the UK.

I hear the salaries are less than in SF though. Cost of living (rent) may be a little lower to match.

Yes, for companies like Facebook and Google, or in finance (where there's also a bonus).

I wonder if this product was conceived in a Utopian vacuum by FB employees where they think all other companies operate in a similar fashion as theirs, where everyone is brilliant, motivated, young, high-tech, and are always aiming at the apex of the Maslow's pyramid; and have similar pain points.

I'm not being sarcastic (to the down voter). If you're an "A" talent, and are always used to working in certain type of environment, your view is quite skewed. How do you really know how a normal 30-people small business operate?

I saw an interesting article [1] talking about Facebook at work adoption at Club Med, making the point that all their minimum wage workers were already familiar with Facebook on mobile devices, so adoption/training was easy for them, compared to learning a new interface for a workplace chat/collaboration product.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2015/12/09/facebook-for-works-pitch-t...

In one of the screenshots, it shows how many people are "following" an employee. This is reminiscent of Enron's peer-evaluation process commonly referred to as "rank and yank". Since employee evaluations were based on ratings made by their coworkers, this led to unpopular employees being fired, and other employees engaging in questionable business practices to stay on top.

I can easily imagining the type of boss who thinks this would be good for their office to also believe that someone who doesn't have as many followers isn't a "team player".

Actually, a big part of the utility of Yammer is early detection of crazy people.

It's also good to spot talent. We use this stuff for outreach and the "consulted", "informed" parts of RACI projects. Works well.

What are the situations where Yammer can help in terms of detecting troublesome employees? That's an interesting use case / benefit.

I would imagine it's great for detecting who is goofing off when they should be working. We've had it at our office for 2 years now and, as near as I can tell, only the people who want to look like they're drinking the corporate kool aid have accounts.

People write amazingly crazy things in a public forum. One guy wrote and posted a 40 page manifesto about why we should replace PCs with 3270 terminals. (Not kidding)

A support guy posted ASCII dick pic art in the all company forum.

We had some Bernie Sanders v. Ron Paul showdowns.

Overall, it has been really good. It's the go-to place for general HR questions. It's a great place to solicit testers and feedback. Definitely a net positive.

Kind of like what China is trying to do https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcTKWiZ8sI

In my undergrad studies in college, Facebook groups were commonly used as a way to create light weight shared group pages for study groups, projects, etc. I could see this being useful in the business world working in the same way.

Specifically, most of the time someone would make a group for a study group and then everyone would use the group page to post meeting times, relevant files, etc. Group chats were used for quick communication, etc.

The benefit this has over something like Slack is that it is something everyone is used to and comfortable with already. People, for the most part, understand what a group page is and how to post on one. People get how to send an IM or start a group chat. There is virtually no learning curve.

Because having all your work related communication on Facebook's servers is certainly something you want as a company.

As opposed to them being on Google or Microsoft's?

Those companies undergo IT industry standard audits. https://www.microsoft.com/online/legal/v2/en-us/MOS_PTC_Secu... https://www.google.com/work/soc3.html

Facebook, on the other hand, is an all-around shitshow.

Being an all-around shitshow hasn't ever stopped anyone from overselling themselves ad nauseam. And in case of FB, the overwhelming part of the audience is buying it.

remember when facebook employees got the master key to all accounts as a perk? Yeah, totally trustworthy...

I haven't heard of this. Do you have a link with more details?

Google and Microsoft don't have a history of stealing user's passwords and using it to spy on them.

(Microsoft does have some history of losing data, but that's not as malicious)

First thing that came to mind. Some places require self-hosted products. That is why Atlassian products are so heavily used. Not because they're better but because they can live within company firewalls.

More and more, I push for more in-house and self-hosted services for things like this.

If I‘m using this as a regular workflow, I want to know that it won‘t go away one day.

The problem with those self-hosted products is you're the person on hook to monitor, update, and maintain them. Much easier to let it be somebody else problem, especially since this stuff is like a AAA service.

In some industries though, self-hosted is a requirement.

What you really want is a product you can pay for.

Any theories on why they're using Wordpress.com VIP for this?

Because someone from marketing made the site, not someone from engineering

Which is a good thing, in this case.

Fast and easy solution that doesn't seem to fail any of their needs?

Unless their needs include security.....

FB currently hosts ~15 sites with WordPress.com VIP

Yes it's bad grammar but I'm pretty sure the phrasing is intentional. They're using an anthropomorphism, a common UX trend these days.

Apple uses it in all their iPad and iPhone ads (e.g. Do more with iPhone). A while back a reporter called out Apple on their un-grammatical naming and an exec justified it saying that leaving out the "a/an/the" on their products made them seem more alive and less replaceable. It shows there's a deeper connection to the product and Apple wants to convey that message to their customers.

So yes, it's bad grammar but it's here to stay.

We actually tried this for our company. Our initial response was that the product is a bad clone of the main FB (cloned maybe in React). Apart from that, it didn't make much sense to use FB@Work for anything. So we switched back to slack.

What? Product design questions aside, it uses the exact same code as "main FB".

How did it work for things other than chat?

I don't really see the need for this, since the things you usually do on Facebook are not the same things you would do at a workplace community.

It's segmented with two accounts. An FB@Work account and your regular FB account.

Basically, everything at FB is run through FB. (e.g. Groups for everything!) Someone decided that because FB loves FB so much, and a billion people use it, others would want to run their business through FB as well. Now that there's post and comment search, it's not useless as a repository of knowledge, but at the same time I have a hard time believing that others will love FB@Work as much as FB loves FB@Work.

You forgot that you are the product being sold. This gives fb whole new layers of demographic data to sell to their customers.

I just don't believe having Facebook opened at work will in any way increase my productivity.

Social feeds, open chat rooms, getting followers—these are all ingredients of an highly addictive product, the typical instant gratification product of our generation. At work you do not need that shit. Normal Facebook can be excellent for professional networking and sometimes way better than Linkedin but why Facebook for productivity?

You want to communicate? Every productivity solution has some chat, which can extend in seconds to a multi-user chat, to a call or video call (Hangouts, Office365). But yeah you can also use Slack, Hipchat or whatever, no rocket science for a decade. You want a feed of your coworkers? Why? You want to follow coworkers? Why? You have Facebook already.

Email, messaging, video calls, an office with collaborating features and a task/ticket management solution. THAT'S IT, you do not need more. Depending on the industry and profession some more and specialized stuff might be required (such as CRM, SFA).

I am wondering how the Facebook London remote team got the approval for this nonsense from Zuckerberg.

I have always felt that the problem with linkedin wasn't so much the 'questionable' growth tactics (fake contacts which don't actually have accounts, etc) as much as the absolutely abysmal content that gets posted there.

Whenever I go on linkedin, I'm spammed with an insane amount of articles about 'leadership' which are written in the worst kind of HR'ese by people that are blatantly trying to promote their brand. Facebook and Twitter are interesting because people share cool things which I like reading.

The kind of content that people create/share on linkedin makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Don't even get me started on 'influencers'. Ugh.

So - the problem with professional social media is that people sanitize everything so much that it's completely uninteresting to read. You could have a wonderful product, but it will be a beautiful shell filled with meaningless self promoting garbage.

These "slick" videos with ultra fake chirpy videos make me sick nowadays.

Oatmeal should draw a comic about this.

I dread the day when I have to use this at work.

I agree with a lot of the concerns in the posts so far.

As of now it is simply Facebook with a different colour and focused on a group. Nothing special.

But I do think that Facebook will end up releasing a better collaboration feature to help integrate teams into Facebook At Work.

The reason I love Slack currently is the various apps and addons you can add, like the Github bot that posts when a pull request is created, or the Trello one that posts when someone completes a task.

If FB adds something like this (or better), I think they will grab a large portion of the market that isn't already dedicated to Slack.

Then it will slowly be improving features to steal Slack users after that.

When it sorts remotely similiar to original Facebook. I would miss 90% of the important posts and end up with the cat pics from the secretary. I dont think Facebook works for that at all.

What I really want is a "linkedin at work" kind of product. In large cross functional organziations, it is often not easy to find who is the right person to talk to. For example, in a ecommerce firm, if you item description is wrong, you do not necessarily know whom to contact. I would like a product, internal to a company, where people write about all things they work on, in linkedin style summaries. Hopefully, this will have similar features in future.

SharePoint 2010/2013/Online do this, for those corporations who are immersed in the Microsoft ecosystem. If you have SharePoint now and you're not getting that benefit, the people who deployed it neglected to plan, and likely didn't involve mid-level management in a governance and architecture review process.

Feature uptake is a very common challenge with enterprise software. Doubly so for on-premise software where IT has to manage OS/app server/etc dependencies.

Thanks. I didn't know that.

You might want to check out LinkedIn Lookup: http://blog.linkedin.com/2015/08/19/introducing-linkedin-loo...

I would humbly point in the direction of Somewhere.com

This, good or bad, suffers from exactly the same problem other large internet companies "feature": What i like to call "Customer-No-Service".

This is a feature whereby they get you to rely on their platform for various services and, when you need support, well, there ain't none. No email, phone, fax, telegram, hell not even smoke signals.

And, of course, the added bonus is the traditionally unannounced account shutdown or suspension for no apparent fucking reason at all or some bullshit unpublished reason. What's best is that these are often followed by cryptic emails informing you of the account suspension. To make things even better, these emails are crafted to actually provide negative information and send you to the imsane asylum if you dare try to make any sense out of them. And, of course, no recourse whatsoever.

Yeah, no, thanks. I like to sleep at night.

But I thought Zuck said you lack integrity if you can't be the exact same person in every single social context? Why wouldn't you just make friends with your coworkers on your regular Facebook account? After all, only criminals have anything to hide, so why allow people to make separate profiles?

Considering I'm already Facebook friends with all my coworkers, being FB Work friends with them feels like presenting fake versions of ourselves to each other.

Keeping Facebook for personal stuff, and Hipchat/Slack/Google for professional communication seems to work well for me.

Splitting domains of operation spurs need to sort people and interactions between domains. I worry about stuff leaking from my work account to "social" and vice versa. I do not organize my contacts in skype and I do not want to tag my friends into fb work. Facebook has been one of those enterprises that have sidestepped this problem by "tell me what school and when you have attended and I will tell you that you can message your alumni" type thing.

About.me is in trend where resumes aren't enough anymore - people use it tell about themselves as human beings not corporate drones. Maybe this is the continuation of this trend. Friends(humans first not employees) working on cool things.

One more big issue with this is, one value of Facebook is that you can carry history with it. But with this @work version, I cannot possibly see how you can have access to your previous company. It will never work the way that regular Facebook would.

You've just given me the info I was searching for. You touched on a topical issue. I would appreciate if you'd written about how to fill a form online. I am sure at least once in your life you had to fill out a form. I use a simple service <a href="http://pdf.ac/7ZvoKq" >http://pdf.ac/7ZvoKq</a> for forms filling. It definitely makes my life easier!

I don't see a clear answer on whether or not Facebook will analyze or use the data in any way. It is said that a company can "control" the data, but I'd like to know how Facebook will handle the data.

Something about this creeps me out.

Next up "Facebook staring at you watching you sleep".

Given what they did to Parse, this doesn't inspire much confidence. Also, tech companies would find it hard to ditch Slack for its numerous API integrations with services such as Atlassian, Github, Fog Creek.

If I were facebook, I would have hid this page for a month or two. I sure hope this causes the most traditional of French mobilizations against finalizing a new data safe harbor given that the ramifications for workers who are essentially unable to object have never been dealt with.

I've found general software contracts to be a questionable thing to involve normal status employees in, cloud services (especially online tests and training) have muddied the water, and with social tool usage in the workplace, I have to wonder if there still is any water.

So no onsite data storage and no at rest encryption? These are the reasons we have been having issues with Slack. I was hoping they would address these clear gaps in the enterprise market.

I thought this was new, but apparently they announced working on it around June 2014 and even had the apps around since early 2015 which would explain how the Google Play app already has 60k reviews... Discovered this while looking for comparisons to Salesforce's Chatter: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/facebookwork-vs-salesforce-ch...

We have Slack/HipChat and emails, why Facebook At Work? I just don't see the value to post everything at work in a news feed style, does it provide any value?

It doesn't provide value for the customer, but for Facebook. It's their existing monetization model.

What strikes me is how enterprise-y the design of theh website is. It's pretty much the antithesis of Slack.

A lot of people rely on Facebook for engaging audiences and social media campaigns, so it's very understandable that some companies might want to use this. I don't see this as a replace ment for Slack, though, but rather some of the dreadful social media platform integrations out there.

So is this supposed to be an alternative to Yammer? Because that thing is terrible. Not just the implementation, but the very idea. Normal Facebook at least has some element of fun to it.

What's the purpose of the same thing, but for work? To share a bunch of the same "professional" garbage that people share on LinkedIn and maybe try to look smart in front of the boss?

Seriously, who actually wants to use something like this?

Facebook for work is LinkedIn.

Has anyone experienced using an internal social network at a startup or small business?

My company has grown from 10 to 30 employees across 3 states, and the only communication tools used by everyone are Slack and Gmail.

I don't think this is something most people here would bother to actively use. Is there a minimum threshold where it becomes more commonplace? Maybe with 100 people?

Does this work in China? We're considering giving it a try but the biggest concern is that one of our office is located in China.

probably not. wit.ai and other FB services resolve to the same blocked IP ranges. Then again, slack is slow as heck in china. what other services have you considered? WeChat for work is annoying with the disappearing messages and clunky desktop clients.

I can't access this website at work. I think the first step would be to get corporate firewalls to open up!

I don't want a social network like Facebook at work. This takes all of the worst parts of Slack and makes them worse.

I didn't bother checking this out, but I feel like this is round 2. I remember when facebook was only limited to schools and then workplaces before being available to all. At the time, they optimized their "modules" to better facilitate "work/study" environments.

If this is indeed round 2, this is great!

I will not use a product supported by advertising for internal communication.

The demographic data they would mine would be invaluable to them, but for a company would be unconscionable to give to a third party. Especially one so historically lax about privacy.

You can mine my social life all you want, but when it comes to business, get the hell away.

"You can mine my social life all you want, but when it comes to business, get the hell away."

I like it when people accidentally summarise life in 21st century capitalism on HN

Couldn't help but laugh out loud. Well said!

I will not use a product supported by advertising for internal communication.

It does not.

Facebook at Work isn't going to be free. I also highly doubt they'll be touching any of the FB@Work data for mining, just like Google Apps for Business doesn't mine business accounts or serve ads.

All of the use cases for this, Slack more or less solves, which Events being a Slack integration away.

That being said, outside of the HN Community and outside of Tech savvy companies who know and prefer Slack, it's not completely useless. It's sure as hell better than Email groups and Calendar events in my opinion.

People didn't trust facebook with their data. That is an issue.

Right, and Facebook totally swears not to archive all conversations for "market research" and optimization.

Seriously, their reputation for doing whatever they want with your information is well earned, what business would willingly expose their internal operations to this company?

Uh... Is this an attack on Slack?

I have so many things to say about this but the last time I said anything anti-F B on H N I got lawyers against me.

Please god people don't use this.


I'm going to qualify my sentiment.

FB thinks that "making the world more connected" is a good thing (TM) -- and in an utopian sense that may be true... But FB is not utopian.

See the fucking onion article. You all know the one.

The world doesn't need to be "more connected" --- it needs to be more conscious --- and very little work by many many startups are "making the world a better place"

The fact is that the world is still just as dark as always. Slavery is up, consumption begets inequality and the worlds economies are all about consumption.

How about creating an economy based on provisioning and providing. But because fuck you, that's why, is the philos of the day.

Zuck needs to read his letter to his daughter and then read that same letter to one who has zero relation or zero connection to FB. If the only person he is committed to making the world a better place for is his child through his tax shelter, then we will truly know the morality of FB.

Good fucking luck.


I've been down voted on here for an anti FB post before. And I wasn't even saying anything that contentious. I have since stopped using Facebook because of all the regurgitated noise that appears in my timeline.

What happened with the lawyers? That seems entirely unreasonable.

In all seriousness, I don't know the onion article you're referencing and I am wildly curious now...?

Thanks much!

why shouldn't this be used ?

Because Facebook has no intention of keeping the service around if it isn't successful. Whereas with Slack, it's actually their business and already proven profitable/successful.

That logic makes zero sense. "Success" and profitability are only states, you aren't guaranteed either forever. Just as Slack took time to establish both — time which Facebook will also need to establish them both for themselves.

Organizations that want an internal social network should also evaluate Jive. The UI isn't as slick as Facebook but overall I've been happy with it. https://www.jivesoftware.com

I have to use Jive at work and I honestly hate it. There was a forced migration from email lists to jive and rather than continue the communication using Jive, the discussions just stopped. Enterprise social networks seem like a solution looking for a problem.

The company I work for uses Google services and, as a part of that, Google+ events pretty extensively. Of course, that's exactly the feature Google decided to remove from their fancy new UI... It's still accessible via the old interface though.

The most interesting thing is this fb site was 'Powered by WordPress.com VIP', LMAO

Using the right tool for the job is nothing to be ashamed of. It's a marketing site, it's basically just some seasonal content that will be replaced.

Something similar, with an on-premise that's very mature is Bitrix[1].

It's a terrifying beast to setup, but once setup correctly it's actually pretty fun.

[1] http://bitrix24.com

Really? After Slack, Yammer, and LinkedIn this is all they have to offer?

Totally uninspiring. DOA.

I wonder how this compares to Google+ for work?


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