Facebook´s new Headquarters in Menlo Park, CA is giving us a glimpse of the future workplace with a massive open landscape mimicing a late 19th century factory floor. Conferencing / Quiet rooms are located in little nooks and cranies throughout. One feels the pulse of creativity and innovation topped by a healthy dollop of collaboration. Desks are minimalistic without drawers imitating a more Scandinavian look. Gone are the cubicles as in the cult film "Office Space". Simplicity rules the day. To me Facebook is following the co-work, tech incubator model with large open spaces allowing innovation, creativity and collaboration to flourish thus churning out new product after new product.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook sits at a desk similar to those of everyone else. This is the way john q. public sees him and not in a massive 1000 sq. ft office with Chesterfield sofas, cigars and his own telepresence video conferencing system.
If you do not need a conference "nook" simply use your headphones and jump in your meeting. Services like video conferencing are being used in every day workplaces and finally becoming mainstream. Gone are the needs to have a special room equipped with a large display or projector, a video conferencing system, control panels from NASA and a staff of IT Support to set up and problem solve the meeting. Now video is being used in the open workplace landscape, in the coffee shop and at the cafe in the airport.
I recently visited WeWork in New York City, a co working space. I was taken aback by the pulse and energy. The landscape was completely open with those nooks and cranies to accomodate those needing a quiet space. Others were working together on solving challenges. The difference between WeWork and Facebook? Wework is a space where employees of many different companies work in the same space as others. Bouncing ideas off each other and providing the ultimate form of collaboration - belly to belly.
Apple and Google among others will start re-designing their office spaces to be more like Facebook, perhaps a trend but a big one. Co work spaces, incubators, and makerspaces are all "opening up" and the technology that is readily available e.g. video conferencing, and other cloud based services are making it easier to work in open landscapes and co working spaces.
Open landscapes offer greater corporate transparency as top managers and executives often sit in the same space as everyone else. Need to have a sensitive information meeting? Jump into a quiet Nook! Need a meeting on the fly? Have it! Companies and working spaces make the tools available for everyone to succeed and enjoy their time in the office space.
That being said... at 430,000 Sq ft (40,000 Sq. m) Facebook has the largest open landscape office space in the world and when one is that big everyone else takes note.