Like the new Facebook HQ?
By Bob Galbraith
Greeted by a giant “thumbs up” as I arrived at the destination of Facebook’s new headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley, I thought at first that I had landed on a college campus. Neat red stucco buildings, wide sidewalks with leaves still on trees, young people walking around with backpacks and riding bicycles between the buildings added to that feeling. It wasn’t long before I realized the atmosphere didn’t change much once I got inside; more like a quiet spring break.
The second stop following standard registration took me to the laundry room, where neatly hung and freshly done laundry filled rows of bags hanging from ceiling racks. As an apartment dweller in a city where doing laundry means dragging the dirties through the streets of San Francisco to the nearest Laundromat, I asked “You can have your laundry done while you work?”
Rounding corner after corner and department to department brought little, yet lots, of change to the environment. Open work spaces define the inside of the buildings on the 57-acre campus, with employees deciding whether to sit or stand at their place of work. Nothing separates one from another except decorations that are encouraged to be brought in and shared in common areas.
Private conversations and conferences can be held in tiny, personal spaces called “cozies,” where an employee can hold a telephone conference, work in privacy, or meet with others. Throughout the work area are other “cozies,” both large and small, that encourage both contemplation and conversation. The open work area is intended to stimulate the exchange of ideas; others stimulate rest and relaxation.
The environment not only takes casual to new levels in the physical work place, but in dress as well. There is nothing formal, the only style being whatever’s handy. Slip on your shoes, grab your backpack, and head to class. Or rather, work.
Still under construction, the campus features about 1 million square feet of space and more amenities are on the way. A doctor will be on site, as well as two new cafeterias, several restaurants and countless other “Saturday chores” that you can perform on campus. And once a “Main Street” type of addition is finished, employees will be able to shop, eat and handle errands as part of the day.
Art is everywhere and anywhere in the buildings, along with simple sketches of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The relaxed and casual atmosphere hardly seems like a place to work, yet I got the feeling that if I worked there I would neither want—or need—to leave. Rounding another corner and spotting a comfortable chair surrounded by artwork and a simple light, I wanted to grab a book and spend an hour or two in solitude. I got the feeling that if I saw a spare wall and had a crayon, paint brush or piece of chalk, I would be free to create the personal masterpiece.
There is the Facebook Wall, where employees pass by, grab a colored piece of chalk and write whatever comes to mind. Large, stand-alone walls feature art, some by employees, others commissioned. If you need a computer fix, there’s an IT center, with skateboards waiting to transport you to the next location. A vending machine supplies flash drives and software.
To get from one building to another, employees have access to beach-cruiser type bicycles, which they leave unchained at the front door. Others walk with backpacks, headed to shuttles bound for home.