The world of Facebook seen from inside
How to explain that, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the shares of the company rose 4.2% or there was not a massive dropout of employees? A solid organizational culture and benefits that few companies have for their collaborators are some of the possible answers.
Entering the Facebook offices is like entering a new world, without visible problems and with bright and happy employees. From the moment you enter the new headquarters, located in Menlo Park, California, it is understood that calling Facebook a giant is more than a cliché.
A tour of the offices of the company helps to put face, floors and walls to a platform as invisible as present in the daily life of more than 2 billion users globally. It also helps to understand the strength that the company has towards the interior and why a scandal like Cambridge Analytica, which would have sunk other services, such as that of the political consultancy itself, did not do so with Facebook.
The first thing you see when crossing the reception, which is loaded with messages alluding to the social network, is a long way in the open air with small and colorful buildings around it. It looks like a city of scale, not only because of its structure and spatial organization, but because of how well supplied it is. The complex was built precisely with the intention of looking like a downtown, the center of an American city. Facebook employees have everything so that they are in the best conditions to take full advantage of their capabilities, a philosophy that is replicated in several other companies in Silicon Valley, such as Google, for example.
There are two ways to be located within the facilities. The first one is looking towards the floor, where from time to time there is a small painted map that indicates the exact location of the person. The second is something more modern and consists of entering any of the buildings and looking for a screen, which is something like a map taken from Harry Potter, because it lets you know where each room and person is, by using GPS that goes incorporated in the business cards of employees.
Curiosities begin to appear as one goes down the long road. All kinds of restaurants, Mexican; Indian, another of ice cream and another of hamburgers, are part of the options that employees have to eat while they are working. This food is unlimited, as well as the products of the shelves that are in each building, with things like cereals, soft drinks, sweets and all kinds of options to 'nibble'.
According to members of the community, 50% of employees use alternative transport and that explains the parking for bicycles and the huge workshop they have to keep them in perfect condition. And if at some point someone loses or is damaged by a cable, adapter or even hearing aids, there is no problem. You should simply approach a dispenser -of those who usually spit potatoes and sodas- to obtain, free of charge, any of these tools.
It is no coincidence that the company's offices look like an amusement park, which even arcade has to relieve stress workers. All this responds to a very marked organizational culture that is based on offering well-being in order to obtain performance. It's something that Janelle Gale, vice president of human resources at Facebook, insists on. "The responsibility of keeping the organization healthy means improving the experience of our people. Many times, growth makes you lose that focus and we are intentionally very committed so that does not happen. "
Organizational values are clear and are directly connected to the mission: generate social value, be open, deliver results, be involved with the community and move quickly. All of them are put into practice through some tools that help achieve it.
One of these tools are weekly meetings in which employees ask what they want from the company or make criticisms, whoever, from any global office can participate. On this, Gale points out that "it is a very important cultural point for us because people want to listen directly to him (Zuckerberg) and that is why we have done it for so long, 14 years in total. So we democratize the processes of good ideas and criticism. "
Other ways to keep the organizational culture healthy is the use of Workplace, an alternative space to Facebook specialized in optimizing the internal processes of companies. The platform, founded in 2016, seeks to break the paradigms that exist around work spaces. Julien Codorniou, vice-president of Workplace, assures that the vision of the product "is to be the collaborative application of communications that connects everyone in the company, not only specific teams".
During this year's F8 , the company's largest annual event, Facebook announced that now, beyond establishing a direct link between all employees, programs were integrated to work within the platform, such as Adobe software or Mercado Libre, for Latin America. "We realized that when you change the way you work and give voice to each person, you increase their productivity. What we are announcing this year is that we are going to move from collaboration to automation. Today we are offering them the power to use the tool with many other applications, "said Codorniou.
Both Codorniou and Gale agree on the same thing: Cambridge Analytica has not affected any of their projects. "What we try to explain, and I think we have achieved it, is to make people understand that, although there is a relationship between Workplace and Facebook, they are different platforms and we work for the security of the companies," added Codorniou.
After seeing how Facebook works inside, it is possible to understand the strength they have to face hard times, such as those that came with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Although, for the most part, the winds of scandal seem not to have touched the culture within the organization, there are notable exceptions. The departure of Jan Koum, one of the founders of WhatsApp, sent a strong strong message about the state of relations between Facebook and its employees. Before this, a report by The New York Times reported how several engineers on the platform sought to be transferred to Instagram or WhatsApp itself for not agreeing with the way Facebook handles data from its users. Even a product designer of the social network announced on Twitter his departure from the company citing ethical reasons.