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Workplace from Facebook review

A powerful and remarkably familiar collaborative app from the social media giant

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(Image: © Facebook)

Our Verdict

Workplace from Facebook is a lean and efficient chat platform that will be instantly familiar to most. Yet, it is also quite powerful and designed for large, complex organizations with massive storage needs and the ability to track and retain messaging to meet regulatory obligations.

For

  • Incredibly familiar interface
  • Powerful and advanced features

Against

  • Free version is quite limited

Give the people what they want. That’s a mantra you might want to consider if you run a business or are in charge of a team or department. Within any organization, there may be other mantras to follow - such as staying compliant to government regulations - but meeting the needs of your team is a good underlying guideline.

Workplace from Facebook is a good example of how that works. It will look and function remarkably similar to anyone who has ever used Facebook (which is, apparently, a lot of people). The paid version is affordable and powerful, even when compared to Microsoft Teams.

Plans and Pricing

(Image credit: Facebook)

Plans and pricing

Workplace from Facebook will be familiar to most and you’ll warm up to the pricing strategy as well. Facebook as a social media platform is free and well-known. Workplace is also free for up to 50 groups (the Workplace terminology for a channel) and each user can store up to 5GB of files. That’s quite generous and possibly a way to get companies hooked on using the service so they upgrade to the Advanced version ($4 per user per month) or the Enterprise version ($8 per month per user).

One of the main differences between Advanced and Enterprise is the level of support - with Enterprise you gain a dedicated support team and almost instant access. Enterprise also provides unlimited storage for all Workplace users.

Interface

(Image credit: Facebook)

Interface and performance

We’re not even remotely in Slack territory here. Workplace looks and functions more like Facebook, and that’s a good thing. Instead of channels, you can create groups, which separate conversations for you. You might have a group for the marketing team or the web development project. At first glance, this looks like a glorified chat system.

Interface

(Image credit: Facebook)

It’s actually far more than that, though. Groups in normal Facebook involve a dedicated page for a topic like biking to work or knitting so all chats and posts occur on that one page. Interestingly, the same paradigm exists here. In Workplace, all groups are listed on the left, and when you click on each one you can see a feed for that group with posts, files, and even blog entries. The entire experience - with the familiar Facebook blue color scheme - will be instantly intuitive to most, so you likely won’t need to do much training. It’s all clear and useful.

Features

Workplace is one of the most impressive team messaging apps in part because it is free to use unless you want more storage. It’s familiar and easy, and when you start digging around you will discover quite a few features meant for easier collaboration.

As you can expect, there’s a chat feature that looks and functions like the one you’ll find in normal Facebook. In the groups feed, you can post messages for all to see, share files, and add comments to posts. Yet, it is much more than that. You can also create team events and track attendance. You can create a photo library of assets a team or department might need. Most of the integrations available are related to news feeds and bots for auto-posting content. 

Video Chat

(Image credit: Facebook)

Workplace provides a group video chat that is also instantly recognizable but powerful - no need for Zoom here and we’re not talking about a tacked-on third-party app, it’s all built-in. You can make group phone calls or video calls with one click. 

With the Advanced and Enterprise options, you can conduct company-wide surveys and view an org chart. In the Enterprise version, you can hold a webinar that streams a video feed to all employees. 

There’s even a frontline worker addition (for $1.50 per user per month) that identifies workers in an organization as part of an essential task force or medical personnel. If you add that feature, you can communicate with these workers more urgently and mark content they need to see.

The competition

Does Facebook have competition? Not really. Workplace from Facebook certainly does, though, starting with Slack and Microsoft Teams. While Facebook doesn’t seem to have a grand strategy related to workplace domination - there is no Facebook version of Office or Google Docs, for example - it is definitely widely known, perhaps more widely known than any app ever created in recent memory. (This is where you could easily argue that Windows or Office are more popular and well-known and you’d be correct about that, although they have also existed for much longer.) The point is, people know Facebook and they will adjust quickly to Workplace.

There isn’t really a downside to that familiarity. Workplace “just works” in the sense that your team will likely start adding posts, exchanging files, and chatting within a few minutes of logging in and without any training. Microsoft Teams is a confusing beast. Slack doesn’t provide as much flexibility in terms of holding events and webinars, the generous file storage for each user, or the extreme familiarity. Even Slack is a bit confusing to anyone who has never used a team messaging app. Microsoft Teams certainly trumps Workplace when you start looking into data retention policies, and we haven’t found any other app that supports a 10,000 person webinar.

Final verdict

This might all lead to the final conclusion that Workplace from Facebook is a no brainer for any team or easily more appealing than Slack, and that’s not quite the case. Our final rating does reveal one clear discovery - this is a powerful team messaging app and certainly competes favorably with Slack and other team messaging apps. 

The file storage allocation is quite surprising for each user even with the free version. The one reason to offer an alternative viewpoint here is if you are not a fan of Facebook. The look and feel are extremely similar. The chat works the same, the posts and news feed look similar. Workplace could give your team “Facebook fatigue” for that reason, and at times it felt a bit like it was a repurposing of the Facebook code into a team messaging app. It doesn’t negate any of the findings, though. Workplace just works.