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Facebook's Workplace wants you to use Portal to video chat with your co-workers

The social network gets down to business with enterprise push.

Facebook has a work version of the social network, called Workplace, for businesses and organizations.
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook markets its video chat device Portal as a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Now the social media giant is making a play to get you to use the video chat device when you're at work.

Facebook said Tuesday it's launching a new app that lets people who use an enterprise version of the social network called Workplace make calls and video chat through Portal


Facebook is launching an app that lets users of Workplace, the enterprise version of the social network, video chat and call on its Portal smart displays.


Taking on video chat services like BlueJeans and Microsoft's Skype, the move illustrates how Facebook is ramping up its efforts to attract businesses and get more people to buy the hardware it's released. 

Facebook first launched Workplace in 2016, with companies such as Walmart, Spotify and Starbucks adopting the enterprise product. Workplace looks like Facebook, but it's used to connect employees within the same company. The social network also said Tuesday that three million people pay to use Workplace, up from 2 million paid users in February

Facebook, which makes most of its money from displaying ads, in September announced a new line of its Portal smart displays, including a version that lets you chat from your TV. The company has yet to release sales figures for its Portal line, which run on Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger chat services. Portal also features an artificial intelligence-powered camera that keeps you in frame as you move, augmented reality effects to transform you into a cartoon character and integration with Amazon's Alexa smart assistant.

"This is really the next level of video calling. Just imagine being able to walk around a room or draw on a whiteboard and not have to worry about people missing anything," Karandeep Anand, Facebook's head of Workplace, said Tuesday in Menlo Park, California, at the company's second annual leadership conference.

Facebook also unveiled other new Workplace features on Tuesday, including automatic captions for videos, surveys and badges to celebrate employee achievements such as hitting sales goals. 

Originally published Oct. 8, 9 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:34 a.m.: Adds quote from Facebook's head of Workplace.