Workplace: Facebook Tests Free Version of Slack Competitor

Facebook’s Workplace is a social networking tool designed for the enterprise, enabling an efficient chat and collaboration platform for employees. It is similar to the Facebook used by friends and family members, but instead is meant to foster interaction between co-workers. Now, Facebook is introducing a free version intended for smaller businesses that are not as interested in the administrative and analytical features offered to subscribers. (It is still being tested, so the release is limited.) The new version will be named “Workplace Standard,” and the paid version will go by “Workplace Premium.”

“We’re making Workplace work for more companies, so it’s a pretty big step for us,” said Facebook product manager Simon Cross. “Not every company wants to go through a full-scale enterprise deployment and not every company is in a position to pay for Workplace.”

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“The social networking giant is betting that a free version will entice small businesses and companies in emerging markets — often more cost-sensitive — onto the platform,” reports CNBC.

“We hope it helps grow the number of companies that we’re able to connect,” Cross added. “They can use it in their team, they can use it in their department and maybe eventually go on to deploy Workplace Premium across the company, but with Workplace Standard they can get started for free.”

Workplace provides tools such as “group discussion, a personalized News Feed, and voice and video calling.”

According to Facebook, “We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace — whether it’s basic infrastructure such as News Feed, or the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, or useful features such as Live, Reactions, Search and Trending posts. This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”

Facebook competitors include Slack, with its 1.5 million paying subscribers, and Microsoft’s Teams chat tool, which launched in November. Microsoft is also integrating LinkedIn into its family of services and products.