Fostering collaboration and creativity: Facebook unveils new open office

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Earlier this year, Facebook unveiled its new open office, MPK20, located in Menlo Park.

Designed by world renowned Frank Gehry, the architect behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the 430,000 square foot building currently holds the largest open floor plan in the world: one room for thousands of employees.

The goal of the open floor concept is to promote collaboration and creativity. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s desk is located at the center, physically and symbolically representing his vision of building a space where everyone is accessible.

"It really creates an environment where people can collaborate; they can innovate together,” said Lori Goler, Vice President of Human Resources at Facebook. “There's a lot of spontaneity in the way people bump into each other, just a really fun collaborative creative space.”

Open offices have been a growing trend for some time now. According to the International Facilities Management Association, 70% of American workers work in an open office. Research suggests this design promotes idea sharing and interaction as well as fosters a strong company culture.

In 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that employees would no longer be able to work from home. The intent was to promote connectivity and creativity, as working from home can decrease engagement and lead to company culture disconnect.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” said Mayer in a statement. “That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

As more and more companies move towards creating a culture of interaction and collaboration, the open work space seems like the ideal design; however, collaborative spaces are not without downfalls as overstimulation can lead to more stress and cause more distractions, making workers less productive.

So which is better? Open offices or private offices?

Well, there really is no “one-size-fits all” solution as people have different work styles and personalities. What works for one person may not work for another.

Environments have immense impacts on how people work, so whether a space embraces a fully open floor plan, features exclusively private offices, or is a hybrid of the two, the goal should be to provide the right environment that supports the company culture while also supporting and empowering employees.

“Our goal was to create the perfect engineering space for our teams to work together,” said Zuckerberg of MPK20. “We wanted our space to create the same sense of community and connection among our teams that we try to enable with our services across the world.”

So at least for Facebook, a fully open floor plan sounds like the perfect fit.

 

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