Yesterday’s Financial Times included an article by Michael Skapinker, “Time to be honest about open-plan offices,” which detailed the mainly negative aspects of working in cubicles; the author opines: “[w]hatever small gains open-plan offices do offer in enhanced communication are, in any event, wiped out by the loss of productivity.”
Two years ago we did a complete renovation of office space here at the law library. Only three librarians have private offices; everyone else works out of a cubicle. Visitors often remark, “well, that’s the Silicon Valley way, right?’ I do not sense that there is any loss of productivity; if anything, I think both communication and productivity have increased with our work environment.
And now I’m reading about Facebook’s new headquarters, which takes shared office space to a new level.
Facebook, next week, is moving into a large building in the Stanford Research Park which is just three blocks from my house. Our neighborhood has a very active residents association and the latest neighborhood newsletter has an article by our research park observer which I’ve excerpted below. See the bolded sentences for information about the Facebook “open plan” office scheme.
— Facebook will be moving into their new facility at 1601 California Avenue on May 14-15. Their current estimate is 750 employees, over a third of which live in Palo Alto. Another 200 live in San Francisco. . . .
(1) They will be setting up their own shuttle
service from the University Avenue train station,
and distributing free Go-Passes to employees to
move as many as they can to/from San Francisco by train.
(2) They will encourage biking by those living locally.
(3) They will provide free gas for those that carpool.
(4) They will use valet parking on site to
increase the parking density behind the building, and
(5) They are now searching for parking space
to rent from other tenants along California
Avenue if additional space is needed.
. . . the building includes about 160,000 square feet on two floors. The marketing and administrative staff will occupy the bright spacious top floor; the engineering staff the more cloistered bottom floor. No cubicles. People will work four to a table the size of modest dining room table.The cafeteria is spacious and their new chef will prepare three meals a day for employees, and well as endless snacks, all designed to keep the employees close at hand. Facebook’s growth rate is measured by the week rather than the year. They are advancing into Europe with great speed, and their fastest growth demographic are the oldsters, the grandparents who like to look at the pictures of their grandkids. They are now translated into 40 languages thanks to their members who have kindly provided the translation for free. All they had to do was ask.
. . .
College Terrace Residents’ Association eNews
May 4, 2009