Facebook is frowned upon as a timewasting distraction in many office environments, but many of us can benefit from using the social network in the workplace. Here we explain how you can use Facebook at Work without upsetting your boss. Also see: Best Facebook tips and tricks

What is Facebook at Work? 

Facebook at Work is a social network for your office. Using the platform you can set up a second Facebook account through which you interact with co-workers, and the things you share will be visible only to them.  

Why you should use Facebook at Work 

Your boss doesn't like Facebook for good reason: you use it to chat with your mates about the weekend's drunken antics, play Candy Crush, answer quizzes to find out which Disney Princess you are, and watch videos of cats. He's not paying you for that. But Facebook has a great many uses that could be beneficial to the workplace, if only your boss was able to remove all those background irritations. Facebook at Work does exactly that. 

Facebook at Work provides a platform on which to set up project-specific groups, post information that's of interest to colleagues, and even to organise team-building social events. It presents a more intuitive way to manage the information that's important to your work life than an out-of-control inbox, although you do still get the facility to privately message colleagues or groups of colleagues. And it gives everyone in the office the opportunity to see what their colleagues are up to and perhaps chip in with some fresh new ideas. 

As with the standard Facebook platform, you'll see more posts from the colleagues you interact with most, and those posts that get a lot of feedback will become more easily visible to others. 

This is all the sort of stuff that you don't want getting confused with your personal Facebook profile - your friends are more interested in what you got up to last night than the fact you have an image-strategy meeting at 3pm. And by keeping separate your work and personal profiles you won't feel compelled to befriend your boss via your personal profile, which means they won't know what you got up to last night. 

The majority of employees will already be familiar with the social network, so no (or very little) training is necessary. You use Facebook at Work in exactly the same way as your standard Facebook profile.  

Why you shouldn't use Facebook at Work 

All this sounds great, but it's important to note that your company is still in charge. Your boss has full access to your account, which means he can keep an eye on what you're up to. If you have nothing to hide then this may not be an issue. But do be aware that any employee within your company will be able to see what you post using Facebook at Work unless you specifically change the audience at the time of posting - so be sure not to get your personal and work profiles confused. Also see: Facebook Messenger isn't evil and it isn't about to spy on you 

What's more likely to upset some people is that if their company signs up to Facebook at Work it will hand over their name, job title and contact details to the social network. If you don't want this stuff to appear on Facebook then you'll have to take it up with your HR department and it's then in their hands what they do about it. Also see: How to make Facebook private and What is Facebook privacy basics? 

Right now Facebook is trialling the Facebook at Work platform and is not monetising it, but it does have to benefit somehow, and most such services are paid. It's possible this benefit will be found in data collection or advertising revenue, and Facebook has not ruled out the addition of advertising at some point in the future. 

How to use Facebook at Work 

There is a small caveat: to use Facebook at Work your company must be subscribed to the service, which Facebook is still trialling. It says it is targetting companies with more than 100 employees to begin with. To find out more information about Facebook at Work just fill in this form 

Should your company sign up to Facebook at Work it will provide your personal details on your behalf, including your name, job title and contact information. As we mentioned, you can't edit this, so if there's anything you don't want to appear on Facebook you should inform your HR department. Stuff you can update includes your profile and cover photos and About you details. 

You will then receive an email invitation to begin using Facebook at Work. You should head to yourcompany.facebook.com and use the same login as you do for your personal Facebook account (you'll be able to toggle between the two). You'll also find Facebook at Work apps in Google Play and the App Store if you'd rather use your phone or tablet than a PC or laptop.  

You can then set about using Facebook at Work exactly as you would your primary Facebook account. Anything shared publically on the social network - even stuff outside your business network - will be visible. This includes Facebook Pages and public groups. 

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.