Is the Facebook Employee Community a Good Idea?

Facebook is building its own employee community, complete with shopping, a sports bar, and doggy day care,  according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal.  The article said the social network is planning on building Anton Menlo–a 630,000 square-foot housing community with 394 units at a cost of $120  million. It will be within walking distance of the offices or a 5-minute bicycle ride away. The new project is essentially a small city of Facebook employees and a few outsiders.

Facebook already provides benefits and perks that would make anyone jealous–free ice cream and lattes, sculptures and shops, and lounges along grassy knolls. One of its corporate goals is to “take care of as many aspects of its employee’s lives as possible.”  While likely well intended, that sounds a bit too Big Brother-ish for many, and what happens if you lose your job? Is it healthy to meld together your work life and your home life, or is it better to have a distinct separation?

Martha Beck, in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine, points out six strategies for a work-life balance. Point 4 is the admonition to separate your homespace from your workspace.  She points out that having “clear boundaries will help you work enthusiastically, then truly rest.”  Since sleep and stress reduction are two keys to healthy living, creating clear boundaries is important to achieve. But how do you do that when the two are becoming more intertwined each day due to the increase in technology and now even housing?

The danger here is that employees will not be able to achieve that separation. When you socialize with your co-workers, you meld the two together. Add to that living in the same space and you have the potential for added stress and, thus, added health challenges. However, there are those that proffer the idea that in some environments–typically creative ones–workers are so passionate about what they do and who they do it with, the result is a happier, more content, and more creative workforce.

Once the Anton Menlo experiment is underway, it will be interesting to see what the actual results are for its residents. In the meantime, creating a plan for how you will manage the increasing influence of technology and the blurring lines between work and home life to achieve your family and personal goals will determine your success and happiness on both fronts.