Although Facebook’s headquarters in Hamburg are slightly hard to find, everything fits the picture on discovery. The downtown location near Google, the breathtaking views of Hamburg, the open-plan office and the multinational technological atmosphere that reigns in the big four i.e. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple is palpable. Hamburg News visited Facebook’s corporate headquarters for the German-speaking region as part of our “New Work” series.
Facebook’s headquartered in Hamburg since 2010
Janine Novo de Oliveira, Business and Feelgood Manager, and Hanna Reisch, Consumer Marketing Manager welcomed us to the twelfth floor. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, the technological company has had headquarters in Hamburg since February 2010. Scott Woods, the first Country Director, helped set up Facebook in Germany at the time. He lived in Hamburg and recommended the city in which Google had already settled, Reisch said. Nine years later, 80 employees now work on around 2,000 square metres where English is the working language and German is, of course, spoken as well.
Canteen, event room and living room
The canteen, which also serves as an event room is adjacent to the reception area. Daily breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Local products from Fritz Kola to Viva con Agua can be found in the refrigerators. The obligatory table football and a massage chair with the finest views of Lake Alster are also available. “This is also our living room, where you can get together and feel at home,” said de Oliveira. A law graduate, she has been working for Facebook for six years and is responsible for the premises, internal events and employee well being.
Open-plan office reflects New Work philosophy
A solid steel spiral staircase leads to the office area where the open-plan design is particularly striking with meeting rooms being the only separated areas. “We want to bring the people of the world together, and we live that here too. That’s why we rely on an open-plan office with short distances. Everyone has a desk to which they can withdraw, but there are also lounge areas or meeting rooms where you can bring everyone together and exchange ideas. That’s flexible and available to everyone,” de Oliveira explained. The meeting rooms have names like kindergarten, Wanderlust or Alsterwasser – so that English-speaking colleagues and business partners can pronounce them. Reisch added: “Thanks to the open working principle, we have flat hierarchies. The manager sits beside the team and does not have an own office which also boosts working together.”
“The journey is only 1 per cent finished” – one of the group’s official guiding principles. After all, Facebook’s mission to connect the world has only just begun. And this is also reflected in the architecture at the Hamburg headquarters. The unclad, high ceilings appear like a work in progress.
Global giant values local art
Art plays an important role in the digital company: “We have our own art programme and we work with local artists to bring a special atmosphere and colour to all our offices around the globe,” said de Oliveira. Staff has dubbed a large, colourful painting 'Hamburg Rain’. Another wall, on the other hand, is decorated with photos of employees to give the company a face. In addition to a business wall showing local customers including MyMüsli or the concept store Frau Hansen, plus a Facebook wall for guests to touch, the office also sports a selfie wall.
Self-development promotes identification
One of the company’s main values is be bold – be courageous. “Anything is possible. Everyone can help shape the future with us. This gives our employees the opportunity to participate and gives them the feeling that they are not only working here, but also at home,” said de Oliveira and gives the example of a mobile bar built by staff. It can be pushed into the elevator and anyone can invite people to a weekly happy hour at their desk. “In my private life, I am committed to the “’Viva con Agua’ charitable association”:https://www.hamburg-news.hamburg/en/media-it/viva-con-agua-all-profit-organization/. It’s nice to be able to bring your private interests to bear here, too.” The idea of supporting the local water initiative and making the products available in the canteen has met with great openness at Facebook Germany.
For Dr. Max Neufeind, a New Work expert, self-realization is one of the main components of the working culture in transition. “People want something from work and work wants something from them. The cultural and technological development of our society is mutually dependent. In the context of digitalization, it is all the more important that employees are able to contribute their personality, empathy and creativity.”
24/7 access to office
Working in a home office is naturally an issue at a digital company like Facebook. But Reisch pointed out: “We have the opportunity to do home office, but it’s used less than you think. The employees appreciate personal exchange and togetherness, e.g. when they meet for breakfast.” The office is open 24 hours – for jetlag sufferers, night owls or even for foreign colleagues who want to work at other hours.
Company-owned Facebook optimizes workflow
Internal corporate communication uses the Platform Workplace which has been developed especially for working at Facebook. “Events or canteen plans are shared there. We can come together digitally to work together on projects and give feedback. This can sometimes be faster than email, especially if you are communicating with several people. And so our inboxes don’t overflow so quickly,” says the Consumer Marketing Manager.
Events boost sense of togetherness
An annual Game Day is organised to boost the sense of togetherness among employees. De Oliveira explained: “The employees split up into teams, think up a crazy game and they compete against each other. It’s like a sports festival at school, only for adults.” Last year, Facebook’s Hamburg office set up a human kicker – table football with real players.
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