Facebook Inc. (FB) is planning a new product aimed at professionals, in an effort to compete with Google Drive, LinkedIn and Microsoft Office (and maybe end the stigma of being seen as nothing more than a distraction at the workplace).
Citing people familiar with the matter, The Financial Times said the new ‘Facebook at Work’ would allow users to chat with colleagues, build catalogs of contacts and collaborate on documents–core functions of LinkedIn and Google Drive.
It said Facebook had begun testing the product with companies as its launch approaches, after more than a year of development.
The company will have some headwinds to work against: many employers ban its social network at the workplace due to concerns about lost productivity. It will also have to persuade corporate customers that it can be trusted with their data, after a series of damaging revelations about its policy towards user data in the past. And it will have to assuage concerns about polluting feeds with ads and other tools aimed at monetizing the service.
However, the rewards have the potential to be big: founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg estimated earlier this year that the company’s U.S. users spend a total of nine hours a day on digital media, but only 40 minutes of that on Facebook.