Saturday, July 12, 2014

What if schools were more like Facebook?

Recently I had the opportunity to get a tour of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The couple hours I spent there were quite the experience and I couldn't help but think about how culture really affects and impacts overall organization success.

I had to get a picture at the main Facebook sign at the entrance.

This is a picture of one of the many open spaces that exist on the Facebook campus. As you can see, the chairs and environment are quite inviting for both workers and visitors.

This is a picture of one of the other main open spaces on the campus. The campus has buildings that make up the perimeter while the middle parts of the campus are open and used as travel spaces to the different buildings. 

This is a panoramic picture of the main food court area. At Facebook, they provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to all employees and all visitors. The goal of this is to make the work environment as convenient and hospitable as possible. Teams and colleagues frequently eat meals together in an effort to enhance collaboration and team bonding experiences.

This is another one of the many spaces that employees may use to get some fresh air, sit and eat and take advantage of a different space. The entire campus is WiFi ready so employees are able to work anywhere on site.

Another open space... employees at Facebook are encouraged to go and walk around campus for their meetings as opposed to sitting down and talking. This model encourages physical activity as well as increased productivity and creativity as a result of the large open campus.

What's trending on #twitter wall at Facebook... you have to know what's being said to stay ahead of the curve.

This is a bike repair shop that is on site. Many employees bring their own bikes to travel around campus and this shop ensures everyone has an operational bike. Not pictured, but there is also a dry cleaning/laundry service available to all employees on site.

In all of the working spaces there are kitchens that are stocked with every kind of breakfast/snack food you could imagine. When you need a snack or a brain break to avoid being hangry, just get up and get something.

You can't have a snack without something to drink...

This is a vending machine with 'tech' equipment one may need at work. If you forget your iPhone charger at home, come to this machine and get one. If you need a keyboard for your computer, come down and get one. If you need batteries for your mouse, come down and get them. Though this comes at no charge to the employee, the prices are listed next to each item so employees see first hand what it costs the company to provide this service.

This image isn't from my visit. The image is via Lifehacker:

This is a typical working space at Facebook. As you can see, some desks are lower than others. Every desk has the ability to go down for sitting and every desk has the ability to raise for standing. There are no traditional offices at Facebook as employees are expected to work collaboratively in open and 'unsiloed' spaces.

When you need a break from working stop on by the arcade to get your creative juices flowing. There are also spaces in the arcade to sit and work if you just need a different 'space.'

Massive BBQ stands are set up on a daily basis because everyone likes to eat the occasional BBQ.

Be sure to stop by the Facebook Wall and write something before you leave. Many of the spaces and walls at Facebook are covered in IdeaPaint as each space is designed for open and transparent thinking/collaboration.

So, obviously Facebook is a little different than the traditional school or school district, but I'm sure there is something education can learn from their culture. I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't want to work in this type of environment. The level of creativity, innovation, flexibility and professionalism are pretty amazing at Facebook HQ, so what can we educators learn from this?

Should we be trying to create learning environments like this in our schools and districts?

How would students feel if they got to come to school at a place like this?

How would visiting a place like this inspire and motivate students to want more from their educational experience?

Maybe Facebook represents more than just social connections...

Maybe Facebook is laying the foundation for something pretty special when it comes to cultures and work/learning environments...

Just maybe...