Education Policy

Is Facebook’s Massive Open Office Scaring Away Developers?

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In Search of Silence

Joel Spolsky is a well-respected figure in Silicon Valley. He created the popular Trello project manager software and is currently the CEO of Stack Overflow.

He’s also one of the first Silicon Valley insiders to publicly and directly endorse the importance of deep work over the fuzzier values of connection and serendipity.

At the GeekWire Summit earlier this week, Spolsky made the following claim in an on-stage interview:

“Facebook’s campus in Silicon Valley is an 8-acre open room, and Facebook was very pleased with itself for building what it thought was this amazing place for developers…But developers don’t want to overhear conversations. That’s ideal for a trading floor, but developers need to concentrate…Facebook is paying 40-50 percent more than other places, which is usually a sign developers don’t want to work there.”

Spolsky argued that offering private offices and uninterrupted time to concentrate is perhaps one the most valuable benefits you can offer developers in our connected age.

In Deep Work, I noted that most businesses do not yet recognize this activity as a tier one skill, but that this would inevitably shift, and Silicon Valley, with it’s reputation for workplace innovation, would likely be one of the first places we would see the movement begin.

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