Facebook@Work being worked on

Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook

Using Facebook in the workplace could soon become the new normal thanks to a new business product Facebook is said to be currently developing.

Dubbed Facebook@Work, the forthcoming service should permit users to collaborate on projects and connect with professional contacts through group chats and document collaboration with co-workers, three people familiar with the matter told The New York Times newspaper Monday.

As first mentioned by The Financial Times on Monday, Facebook began working on the project years ago, lead by a team based in the firm’s London offices. They’re currently testing Facebook@Work externally with a handful of outside companies and expect to roll it out “within the coming months.”

Facebook employees have long used Facebook@Work in their daily work, the report notes. Expanding this to other companies has reportedly been discussed internally “for some time” now, especially as its launch approaches.

Facebook wouldn’t say whether its business product will be available through a web browser like its main service, if a software download will be required or whether it plans on charging corporate users wishing to take advantage of Facebook@Work.

Facebook Trending (web screenshot 001)

For what it’s worth, Facebook@Work reportedly looks “very much” like the regular Facebook site, The Financial Times wrote, including a newsfeed and groups. The service should let folks keep their personal profile separate from their work identity.

“Toughest of all will be the Internet technology managers and chief security officers who allow the deployment of this type of software or service,” writer Mike Isaac noted.

He’s right: I myself can’t help but wonder how on Earth does Facebook expect to work around the many restrictions corporate IT managers have put in place in order to restrict access to Facebook in the workplace.

There’s no question that the new product is going to have to win the trust of companies and organizations. Earlier this month, the company rolled out a new Privacy Checkup tool on the web (seen below) to help users understand who can see their posts and other information they share on Facebook.

Facebook Privacy Checkup (web screenshot 001)

Should Facebook decided to go down the paid route, Facebook@Work might create another revenue stream for the company, which now has more than 1.3 billion regular users. It will be interesting seeing whether Facebook@Work contains any advertising.

With collaboration software startups such as Slack, Hipchat and Asana aggressively seeking funding, Facebook can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and watch its mind share get eroded in the workplace, especially with Google, Microsoft and Dropbox slugging it out for market dominance in enterprise.

Slack, for example, is now valued at more than a cool $1 billion and that’s less than one year after launching publicly.

Does Facebook@Work sounds like something that would improve your productivity in the workplace, do you think?

[The New York Times, The Financial Times]