Workplace by Facebook, a work chat and communication platform that looks just like Facebook, is now free to use for the staff and volunteers of education providers and nonprofit organizations, the company announced today.
More than 2,000 nonprofit organizations use Workplace today, including UNICEF, Save the Children, World Wildlife Fund, and Florida’s Miami-Dade School District.
Workplace by Facebook is designed to look and function just like Facebook, with the same ability to post status updates, create groups, read and like updates in a News Feed, share photos and live video, and deliver real-time translation powered by artificial intelligence.
Workplace’s new offering competes directly with Teams, Microsoft’s team chat and productivity app, which has been adding tools made specifically for educators for more than a year. In fact, Microsoft has made a number of investments targeted at educators, including the acquisition of Flipgrid earlier this week. Both will have to compete with Google, which currently offers Chromebooks to half of all primary school students in the United States.
Facebook hopes that Workplace’s familiarity translates into adoption at organizations where perhaps not everyone is familiar with modern productivity apps like Asana, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google’s Hangout Chats.
Since launch in October 2016, Workplace has been adopted by 30,000 organizations around the world, ranging from Spotify to Starbucks and Walmart.
No limit has been placed on the number of employees or participants an educational and nonprofit organizations using Workplace can include. In fact, Facebook encourages company-wide adoption so the app can be used for bottom-up and top-down communication.
“The beauty of building Workplace on top of the Facebook infra is that we can scale,” Workplace director Julien Codorniou told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be life-changing, but if it can be, I would say it’s critical to make sure that the news travels fast from the field to the HQ and the HQ to the volunteers and from the volunteers to the donators, so we think Workplace can accelerate that.”
In addition to making Workplace free to nonprofits and educational institutions, Facebook today announced the formation of a Workplace for Good team with members working in offices in the United States, India, and Brazil, who are dedicated to helping organizations use the product.
Workplace by Facebook includes a free version that offers a series of services, like photo and video calls and unlimited file, photo, and video storage. But it does not include premium features, like integrations with third-party enterprise software providers. Companies currently pay $3 a month for every active employee using Workplace.
Each organization applying for free access to Workplace by Facebook will be reviewed by TechSoup, according to its guidelines for what qualifies as a nonprofit or educational institution.
Since the launch of Facebook’s product for work 18 months ago, Workplace by Facebook Premium has added integration with popular workplace software like G Suite, Salesforce, and Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory. Multi-company workplaces were also introduced to give organizations a space for collaboration across multiple organizations.
Bots for Workplace were introduced last year and, unlike bots on the traditional Facebook platform, can function in groups, as well as in Work Chat, the chat app that accompanies Workplace. Last year, organizations were given the ability to create their own customized bots to deliver information and perform automated tasks.
At F8 last month, 50 SaaS bots and integrations were introduced from names like Zoom, HubSpot, Adobe, and Microsoft SharePoint. Facebook also introduced a directory that makes it easier to find popular bots and integrations.