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.