Social media giant Facebook has launched a separate version of its network platform aimed at businesses, called Workplace.
Facebook hopes the new product will replace businesses' previous internal communications tools, such as intranet and mailbox. It's competing with other workplace products or services including LinkedIn, Slack, HipChat, Microsoft's Yammer and Salesforce's Chatter.
Workplace, previously called Facebook at Work, has a similar look and feel to standard Facebook, including a news feed to read, group chats, and an instant messaging to stay in contact with co-workers. Users can add and share comments, photos and videos about their work and can engage in video calls with co-workers.
In a change from Facebook, Workplace's background is gray, not blue, and users can access it without a Facebook account.
The service is free for nonprofits and educational institutions, but costs businesses between $1-3 per month per connected employee, depending on the size of the business.
Organizations have used the service for the past 18 months on an invite-only basis. Facebook says 1,000 companies are already using the product, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, the nonprofit group Oxfam, and soup maker Campbell's.
Workplace is based on an internal service that Facebook's own employees have been using for years.The goal is similar to Facebook -- to connect as many people as possible -- but this time in the workplace."A connected workplace is a more productive workplace," explains the official Workplace page.
Facebook says the top five countries now using Workplace are India, Norway, the United States, Britain and France.