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4 Things We Learned from our Visit to the Facebook NYC Office

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By Caroline Cakebread, Junior Newhouse NYC student and MAG major

On Tuesday, April 12, Professor Finlayson’s Social Media class visited the Facebook NYC offices for a tour and sit down with Kate Barker, a client partner for Facebook who works on beauty brands. The first thing we noticed about the office (other than the impressive snack selection) was the unfinished floor and ceiling. Kate told us that this is not a cost cutting measure, but part of the company’s mission to never consider themselves finished, and to always keep pushing and working harder. Here are four other things we learned from Kate:

1.Beware of Groupthink
At the Facebook headquarters in California, the sign at the entrance says Facebook on one side and Sun Microsystems on the other. Sun Microsystems was the computer company that occupied the massive office space with its thousands of employees before it went bankrupt. Facebook keeps the old logo there as a daily reminder to employees of how the mighty can fall, and what can happen when groupthink takes over and hard conversations don’t happen. Kate said company groupthink happens when colleagues don’t want to challenge each other’s ideas. They are afraid of having having those hard conversations, and offending someone or coming off as a bad team player. Kate told us that every week her supervisor will ask her team who had a hard conversation, and that the idea of challenging the status quo is a key part of Facebook’s culture. Employees even receive formal training on how to have these types of conversations–which Kate pointed out is a great skill to have for professional and real life situations.

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2. Avoid Burn Out
Work life balance is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and Facebook has taken it in stride with their “fuel” program. The program tries to solve the “everyday feels like a week” syndrome that is common at high-powered companies, by encouraging employees to spend time during the workweek doing something they enjoy. As an example, Kate told us about one employee who spends every Thursday morning at Home Depot shopping around for ways to fix up her house. This is her weekly “fuel” and is meant to stop her from getting burned out and delivering sub par work.

3. Show ‘Em the BBQ
For Facebook this is a literal and figurative motto, and a good reminder for all of us keen to enter the workforce. At Facebook HQ, there is literally a bar-b-que pit on campus that according to Kate, serves some of the best stuff there is. Every time a client or prospective business partner comes into town, they are taken there for a taste. In a less literal sense, the expression is meant to remind employees that at the end of the day, everyone is a human and that it’s so important to bring that human aspect into business.

4. The future is mobile
Mark Zuckerberg won’t look at ideas from app developers unless they are optimized for mobile –that is how strongly he believes it is the future for pretty much everything. And it is hard to say he is wrong, you can do anything and everything with your phone and the capabilities only seem to keep growing. Kate said that ruthlessly prioritizing time like Zuckerberg does is a big part of the company culture. The competition between tech companies is fierce, and Facebook knows that to survive they need to keep focusing and pushing at every level.

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