Facebook Village: Company Town or Convenient Commute?

Thursday, 03 Oct 2013 11:22 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Many Americans now work from home, but Facebook employees soon will have the option of living at work.

The social-network mammoth plans to build a 394-unit housing development just a scenic stroll from its sprawling Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Facebook is not known to skimp on its perks. The planned rental property — it's not free, market rates apply, and offsite housing is in short supply — will include dog-walking services, pool and spa, and a three-themed rooftop entertainment park.

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"The development," the Journal noted, "conjures up memories of so-called 'company towns' at the turn of the 20th century, where American factory workers lived in communities owned by their employer and were provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary."

Denizens of today's Silicon Valley tend to float from company to company even if they remain in one location and industry, the Journal noted. The idea here may be to bolster the loyalty of highly skilled and sought-after programmers in return for a bigger company investment in their lives.

Facebook doesn't want its employees to be sidetracked from the creative process by the mundane chores of life, such as worrying about how to get to the office in traffic or when to pick up the dry cleaning or how to squeeze in a haircut on a busy day.

Some analysts worry about the sociological effects of the high-tech culture on their surroundings. For instance, by replacing public transportation with corporate shuttle buses, high-tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Facebook may be contributing to "reverse urban sprawl," according Eric Rodenbeck, writing in Wired.

People who used to live in the suburbs and commute to the city for work now can be whisked away to their jobs in the suburbs while living in dense urban neighborhoods.

Related Stories:

Facebook in Fresh Privacy Row With New Policy
Tech Firms Bumping up Perks to Recruit, Retain Employees

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