WordPress.com’s parent company Automattic is today launching a team communication and collaboration product that has served as the “foundation of Automattic’s distributed work model” for more than a decade.

Automattic invested in telecommuting long before working from home became the new normal for a pandemic-ravaged global workforce.  Since its inception in 2005, Automattic has focused on remote working, and today its products give more than 1,200 employees in 77 countries full autonomy to work from wherever they please. But this level of distribution requires the right tools and technologies to ensure workers can collaborate across borders and time zones, which is why Automattic has relied on third-party products, such as Slack and Zoom.

However, the company has increasingly used its decade-plus distributed workforce experience to develop its own tools, including a productivity suite called Happy Tools that it now sells to businesses for $5 per month. Automattic also created a platform called P2, which it has used internally for more than a decade as a blog-style conversation conduit for asynchronous communications.

Since 2008, P2 has also been available as a theme anyone can integrate into their blogs, but this option hasn’t been updated in over four years.

Above: Automattic’s P2 theme

Standalone

P2 is now arriving as a fully standalone product that’s designed for teams of all sizes. Powered by WordPress.com, P2 is available on the web and through the WordPress mobile app on Android and iOS. It’s flexible in terms of use cases — somewhat like a company intranet or Reddit-style forum in that it attempts to “move teams and organizations away from siloed email inboxes.”

Anyone can create a threaded discussion around the latest company products, new projects on the horizon, team outings, and everything in between.

Above: Automattic’s P2: Discussing projects

P2s can be set up for private internal team discussions or open conversations with customers and partners. Users can easily switch between P2s from within their WordPress.com account — each P2 has its own unique URL, similar to any standard WordPress.com blog.

Above: Automattic’s P2: Switching between P2 sites

The launch was largely driven by the sudden global shift to remote work, according to Automattic, which said it has seen “an influx of interest in its distributed work best practices” in the past few months.

There’s no shortage of team collaboration tools out there, of course, with the likes of Slack and Microsoft Teams already used by millions around the world. P2 is built with the distributed workforce in mind and focuses on asynchronous communication that enables teams to work together across time zones. Like Slack, it can also be used for real-time communications, as it supports messaging and @mentions and users can receive alerts and notifications if someone tags them in a post. So what sets it apart from the crowd?

P2 blog

Above: Example P2 blog

Companion

P2 is essentially built as a companion platform to real-time communication tools like Slack. It’s designed to house longer-form discussions that are not as time-sensitive, leaving the other real-time platforms to handle the day-to-day office chatter.

“Slack tends to be noisy, with lots of watercooler conversations mixed in with weighty topics,” explained Jon Burke, who led the P2 product launch for Automattic. “As a result, it can be tough to find something you need using search or scroll back. P2 is where we show our work and often is where routines happen and decisions are made. For example, every team posts regular Thursday updates and important HR policy updates, product release documentation, and other key updates are shared in P2. An important HR update could easily be overlooked in Slack.”

Moreover, P2 is an open platform built on WordPress, so content can be easily exported for use anywhere else. And because P2 is built on WordPress, its look and feel is very different from most enterprise-focused collaboration tools — it’s more visually appealing, like a blog. This also means P2 can be used by any “team” out there, including sports clubs, schools, or families to organize holidays or weddings.

P2 is available now in open beta for anyone to use, and Automattic plans to keep the platform free for everyone — however, it will be adding premium options in the future. The existing P2 theme will also still be supported for those who use it.