After I wrote my post on the new Facebook office spaces, my friend Andy made me put my money where my mouth was and invited me to Facebook to tour the offices for myself. Since that was one of my most commented upon posts I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the campus for myself.
Was the campus overwhelmingly large? Yes. So much so that there are shuttle buses and bicycles to get people from building to building. But is also filled with light and art and posters and a sense of play. It was also a lot quieter than I expected it to be. People were very respectful of the open seating and kept their voices down in the open areas. They used the closed conference rooms and outdoor areas, the coffee shops and other communal areas for conversations. It was actually a very congenial environment and not at all what I was expecting.
There was so much art. And posters and graphics all pinned haphazardly to the walls which gave the space a casual vibe and made it feel partially like a college campus and partially like Disneyland for coders.
I also work in a large office with tons of cubicles and an ongoing attempt to have “open seating” despite the photo from the previous post, Facebook’s space actually has a warm comfortable vibe of a loft apartment rather than a corporate office that stripped all the walls out of the cubicles. Each employees space has personal touches that show their personality, some more than others, of course. Some folks work on large desktop machines while others work on laptops to be more mobile. Some people work on mobile apps and just wander around with their phone in their hands. What a way to function!
All in all, it was an inspiring day and I feel quite differently about the landscape, both inside and out, of the Facebook offices. And I’m supremely jealous that the weather is such in California that Facebook employees can essentially work outside in the roof garden 11 months out of the year. Makes me dread January in KC.
For even more photos, check out my full Facebook HQ album on Flickr. And yes, I’m eating my words a little now. At least they taste like asian noodle bowl and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
I was listening to Cortex yesterday and Myke and CGP Grey were mentioning the new Menlo Park headquarters for Facebook and the large, open-plan work space. This space is not a trend unique to Facebook. Many companies and office spaces are transitioning to open-plan work spaces for more “open communication” and collaborating. But is this type of space really the solution to that? Do people really collaborate more and do critical thinking in a space like this or do they end up trying to drown out all the distractions with headphones or go hide away in a closet somewhere to get some actual work done?
I find the interior space of the new Facebook office neither aesthetically appealing nor engaging for working or collaborating. It just looks cluttered, messy and noisy. The fact that no one is given any storage space nor are they encouraged to have personal items on their desk seem to only make it more disheartening and cluttered. The overly high, unfinished ceilings with cables descending down are even worse! I think of something Trevor Noah said about not moving into Jon Stewart’s office after he left the Daily Show… he talked about how the whole point of moving up in the worked and getting out of poverty meant he didn’t want to have to live in a space with exposed brick walls again and what was it with white people and exposed brick? I feel the same way about wealthy tech companies and exposed wiring? You can afford to have that sh*t covered up! This whole space gives me a case of the hibby jibbies!
I really hope that the pendulum of the open floor plan office starts to swing back the other way because I don’t believe that this much openness is genuinely conducive to non-distracted working and thinking. I believe it leads people to seek out other places to work, or they choose to come into work either early or stay late in an attempt to avoid distrations. I think the myth of multi-tacking needs to stop. It makes people sloppy and tired. We can multi-task for a little while but, in the end, I don’t think its effective, efficient or healthy. I don’t think we, as idea workers, can come up with our best ideas when we are constantly distracted by co-workers, bleeps, or other disturbances. Yes, its nice to have a way to bounce ideas off other people, but we need to find a better way to do it other than forcing people to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with headphones on while they madly type into their laptops and mobile devices. That’s not really collaborating, is it?
I hope these spaces feel colorful and inspiring. So many of the images I find around the internet of workspaces lately have been stark white and barren and don’t feel like inviting workspaces. These spaces felt tidy but productive with evidence of people actually utilizing the space for a variety of tasks.
There are lots of great detail photos and “where to buy” guides interspersed in this office tour of fashion blogger Caroline Harper Knapp of House of Harper. Also interspersed are other workspace and office tours previously posted on My Domaine. Eye candy galore.