By Ghazanfar Iqbal
Recently, Telenor held an internal competition with regards to Facebook’s Workplace platform. The competition was about how beneficial Workplace has been ever since its launch for Telenor employees.
I won the competition from Telenor Pakistan and joined 3 other winners globally. All 4 of us got the chance to spend a day with the Facebook team in their Asian Pacific HQ in Singapore.
I thought to myself, why not write about my experience at Facebook HQ. So here we are.
We started off with a lunch at their cafeteria. And let me tell you, its no mere cafeteria, it actually felt like a fancy restaurant with an amazing view and a menu which had everything to cater every nationality. I guess Facebook Singapore’s office wants to celebrate the diverse mix of cultures that the tiny island nation is renowned for.
After lunch we did a tour of the office, with an amazing 360° view of the Singapore skyline and colorful themes and graffitis all around give out a very vibrant and trendy look. It reminded me of Telenor’s office back home. The office space is open just like in Telenor and you can sit anywhere on your designated floor.
About Facebook WorkPlace
Elaine Pai, who is the Strategic Partner Manager for Workplace at the Singapore HQ, gave me a presentation on Facebook values, culture and also an introduction to Workplace platform.
Elaine Pai, Strategic Partner Workplace Manager
Before a global launch, Workplace was initially used as an internal communication platform and from there the idea generated – what if the same platform can be offered to corporate companies?
It has been a huge success since its launch and major firms now use it as a primary tool for their projects and communication.
Ken, Oculus Ambassador
Later we had a VR experience on the Oculus Rift by Kenneth, an Oculus ambassador at Facebook HQ. Since Facebook owns Oculus, it was interesting to see how the company plans to use VR for its future products.
Durga, Data Engineering Manager
Then we had a big data session with Durga Rajaram who is the Data Engineering Manager there.
She explained how they benefit from data analytics feedback by sharing it with the sales team on a constant basis to improve their revenues. They also prefer to build in-house solutions to address all their data requirements and those solutions are further sold to other companies. All of this works as a parallel income stream for the social media giant.
So to summarize it all, few of the outtakes which are worth mentioning:
Values and Culture
They are pretty serious about their values and a proud bunch when it comes to following them. There have been few instances, where people who were top performers but were not following the values or blending in with Facebook’s culture were drafted away from the company.
- Move Fast & Break Things – They don’t have time in an ever-changing environment to go through approvals, so they are empowered to make their own decisions take their own initiatives and make their own teams. Try and fail then try again is the motto here.
- Stay Focused & Keep Shinning – Focus on the biggest problem rather than wasting time on the little ones.
- Done is better than Perfect – They want to get things done hence they believe to move fast and learn even faster.
- Ruthless Prioritization- Act as it is required to act, tomorrow is a new day with a new priority.
So to be innovative and successful an out-of-the-box mindset is a necessity, which Facebook caters to with these hackathon events they hold. These are quarterly events where any employee or number of employees share their ideas to the management and if approved they start working on them immediately.
The ideas should not be just on paper, rather a MVP (minimum viable product) in hand is required. So when I was told about these events, my obvious question was that, how do employees get time to work on such ideas? and the answer shocked me.
So essentially, yes the employees can work on anything they feel can bring value to the company. If it affects their own work, they can simply tell their superior or team to give few of the tasks to someone else and that’s it, pretty easy and effective.
It sort of reminded me of the Ignite platform we have here.
Everything Revolves Around an Employee
Facebook believes that as long as their employees are happy they can achieve anything and everything they set their minds to. So they prioritize benefits according to individual requirements.
They have these two resource development programs called “Extrinsic” and “Intrinsic” which reflect on an employee’s well-being.
- No Office or Cubes – Believe in open spaces to develop more bonding and creativity among all
- Personalized Benefits -Benefits are tailor made according to each individual needs
- Wellness Center – A welfare fund for each employee which she/he can consume according to their requirements
- Food & Dry Cleaning – Already talked about food but yes they also got very cheap dry cleaning
- Simple + Straight Forward Language – Be open to everyone, it’s important to let others know what you feel rather circling around it and reaching no conclusion.
- Flat Structure – No concept of senior or junior employees, everyone is equal.
- Choose the work you love – If you are not getting hold of in your current position talk to HR about your interest and you will be move to that department.
- Encourage Lively Debate – Rather than talking on Whatsapp and emails, have face to face sessions which brings out more value to the projects.
- Give Continuous Feedback – It is required to give feedback to your manager and vice versa on continuous basis whenever you feel there is a need.
- Hack, Build, Make – Have an idea work on it, make it, present it and move on.
- It’s OK to fail – Failing means you are not only trying but learning not to fail in the same way again.
- We pause between sprints – Since they are working on numerous products simultaneously, they need to have that leisure time after reaching each check point.
- Everyone is an owner – Facebook share program for every employee is mandatory, making them realize that they are not just working in the company but own a part of the company.
- Be yourself at work – Accept all cultures and races and be whatever you want to be.
There’s no doubt that for me, it was an experience of a lifetime. I loved every bit of it and will end it with a positive note. I think we can learn a lot from them, especially when we are just getting started.