Our visit to Facebookville

Tue, 27 Jan 2015

To clarify, “Facebookville” is not the official name of Facebook HQ, 1 Hacker Way in Silicon Valley, but after spending two hours on a private tour around this amazing facility, you feel like you are in village rather than a workplace.

Facebook took over the old Sun Microsystems campus in 2011 and proceeded to transform it into a true campus community, connected through a large external causeway fed (literally) by a raft of restaurants, cafes, fun/event spaces, bike shop, dentist and vending machines (most of which are free of charge).

This area is secure from public access and walking through it makes you feel like you are walking down Mainstreet in Disney Land or back at University (considering the mix of age of workers and their casual attire).




When we were there, the large court yard was being cordoned off and set up for Halloween festivities, while signs around it indicated there was soon to be a big “Hackathon” event coming up. It felt vibrant as you walked around, and our guide, Goranka, bumped into senior managers and colleagues alike as they moved between the buildings to have their next meeting, or go back to their workstation. This main causeway tied the whole place together.

Facebook HQ, we were told, is home to approximately 4000 workers. What do 4000 people do working for Facebook? I couldn’t tell you in detail (or 100% accuracy), but there are a mixture of engineers, programmers, process improvement, sales, legal and I’m sure other key areas to ensure Facebook continues to be the leading social media platform.

This is where the campus makes sense. Facebook really understands what they do - their purpose. The whole workplace is designed and facilitated to ensure full focus can be given to working on and improving Facebook as the best social media site/application in the world. In fact, away from the glitz of the connected court yard, the working area is designed specifically for that - working - with a desk to every person (sit to stand) and the technology that they need.

By design, what has been created at 1 Hacker Way is a community that is comfortable, allowing members to be passionate, productive, creative/innovative and achieve the best outcomes for Facebook and themselves.

I feel Facebook needs this workplace environment to foster this type of behavior and have its leaders lead it. The location of the campus plays a role in this too. Being in Silicon Valley, the workplace is quite isolated in itself, and as a result, many teams run unconventional hours to avoid congestion with the commute to the office. Getting out for lunch, to the dentist, for a walk, is not easy if you work in a remote area away from the city, so the workplace has catered for this to ensure people can focus on their work and perform.

Is this the new way of the workplace? It certainly appeals to the philosophy on workplace matching culture and aspirations of the organisation, and gamification was very evident. We found it inspiring and a great end to a long trip.


Jono Vidak - Director - Vidak Limited