October 7, 2013

Is the Facebook Complex Bad for Business?

Two angry businessmen fighting for agreement signingHave you heard about Facebook’s new plans? Apparently, the no.1 social networking company has plans to build a community development just a “bike ride”—1.5 miles—from its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters.

The new project is supposed to be a $120 million, 630,000 square-foot complex with 394 housing units. The complex will have studio and three-bedroom apartments, with some units set aside for non-Facebook employees and around 53 units for low-income residents.

The luxurious, resort-style amenities for Anton Menlo, the future community, include:

  • Sports bar
  • Doggy day care
  • Convenience store
  • Private pool with cabanas
  • Clubhouse with outdoor kitchen facilities
  • Rooftop entertainment deck
  • Yoga studio
  • Bike repair shop
  • Dry cleaner and concierge

A TIME article writes:

Renderings of the new addition to the Facebook playground depict a sleek, contemporary complex akin to a modish Miami hotel. And like an exclusive hotel, the complex will be highly sought-after, as it’s only able to accommodate about 10 percent of Facebook’s workforce.

When I first read about this I immediately thought, “What a smart move by Facebook.” Think about it: Facebook is such a highly-sought after company. An NBC article even reported that an internship at Facebook is the most sought after job in Silicon Valley. It said:

“Internships at the social network are the most sought-after gig in Silicon Valley, ahead of senior iOS software engineers, VPs of engineering, data scientists, and senior Ruby on Rails engineers, respectively.” The company is attractive and adding a “perk” like a nearby housing community only makes it that much more appealing.

Facebook employees already enjoy the incredible perks and luxuries the company regularly and freely offers. Now it’s giving workers the opportunity to shorten their commute times as well?

All I can say is branding, branding, branding.

Facebook is young, innovative and expanding, and with the addition of this new complex, it’s sending a message to the world that these qualities are precisely what make it one of the most sought after places to work.

But, as the saying goes, “everything that glitters isn’t gold.” And as I continued to think about how smart and “strategic” of a move this was for Facebook, I also wondered if it may produce unwanted negative effects.

Could the Facebook complex be bad for business?

Most workers desire a sense of work-life balance, but could the new complex harm that for Facebook employees? The community is going to be built 1.5 miles away from Facebook’s headquarters. This could cause employees to work longer hours as they figure, “Well, home is only a bike ride away.”

Sure, this could benefit the company, but it could also negatively affect (or eliminate) a worker’s home life and keep him/her from family, friends and other activities.

And because Facebook is sort of building an “exclusive” community, it may hinder the workers who live there from developing relationships outside of work and/or the work community.

Americans are already deemed “workaholics” and a housing development created by an employer near the employer could, in a sense, make employees feel like they’re always on the clock. It may put a level of ‘24-hour professionalism’ on workers. For example, most workers wouldn’t want an employer to know his/her personal information, such as if the worker ever pays rent late, or has credit card debt, etc. But, if a worker is living in a housing complex created by its employer, he or she may be concerned about the employer knowing this personal information as it relates to him/her as a tenant.

Just the same, workers wouldn’t want to “let loose” and have a few drinks on company grounds. There’s a certain level of professionalism at the office, and that’s why happy hour is outside of the job. A company housing complex filled with other coworkers could make workers feel like “home” has turned into the “office”. This is especially true if a worker’s manager or supervisor lived next door!

What do you think, Recruiter.com readers? Is Facebook’s future complex bad for business?


Read more in Work Life Balance

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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