COMPANY CULTURE / MAY. 02, 2015
version 17, draft 17

The Worst Thing About Working at Facebook

facebook
istock

They say it’s fun and interesting to work at Facebook. High salaries come like a bolt from the blue, and the REAL Zuckerberg shakes your hand every day. Doesn’t it look like the job of your dreams?

But here’s the kicker:

Things are not so fantastic in reality. Everything is worse. Much worse, actually. Former and current workers of the world’s largest social network came to Quora and wrote about the worst things about working at Facebook. The interesting fact is that the vast majority of users preferred to write anonymously. "That’s how you keep cattle in the pen", one of them wrote.

See also: Top 10 Worst Things About Working as Cabin Crew

So, what does it mean to work for Facebook?

  1. You work on a product over a billion people around the world use! (Meaning you should be responsible and ready to solve challenging problems).
  2. You are not necessarily a college degree holder, though education is important, of course! (This means you should be able to display your actual skills and some good side projects to show them you are stronger than other candidates).
  3. You are not necessarily an American (Candidates from Eastern Europe, Russia, India, and many other places outside the U.S. work for Facebook successfully).
  4. You fit well into Facebook’s corporate culture (They call themselves "builders of hackers").
  5. You are not necessarily an engineer (They hire young specialists into monetization, marketing communications, business operations, and more. You can check the list of all available positions on Facebook’s career page).
  6. You are lucky to use all their perks (transportation, health care, equipment, laundry, FOOD, etc.) for free!

If everything is so wonderful and promising, what makes people quit from this dream job? We’ve distinguished seven instructive stories for you to look at Facebook from a different angle. 

Around the clock

"The worst thing about working at Facebook for me has been oncall duty," Keith Adams wrote, a software engineer. "Most engineering teams run complex, frequently modified software in production. Since things have a way of going wrong, teams have a rotating responsibility for responding to unanticipated emergencies. Since these can happen any time, day or night, and are of unknowable scope and severity, being oncall is a serious responsibility; many millions of users are affected every minute the site is broken... While it can be satisfying to help get the site back in order when it’s sick, it really is not for everyone. This part of the job just isn’t fun for me; I find debugging under time pressure through a 3am haze stressful."

But do they still work harder than Mark Zuckerberg himself?

People close to the chief executive of Facebook Inc. say he spends about ten hours per day and five days per week in the office. So, that means 50 hours per week, which is a bit more than standard 40 hours most of us have in a contract.

But:

“That depends on what you count as work”, Mark says. He answered this question directly, in a Q&A section of Facebook. “I spend most of my time thinking about how to connect the world and serve our community better, but a lot of that time isn’t in our office or meeting with people or doing what you’d call real work. I take a lot of time just to read and think about things by myself. If you count the time I’m in the office, it’s probably no more than 50-60 hours a week. But if you count all the time I’m focused on our mission, that’s basically my whole life."

A mess 

Facebook grows constantly, and it would be logical to ask the question about how they deal with all that infrastructure and corporate culture of more than 4,000 employees. It seems the system should run like clockwork, but some Facebook workers would disagree here (the feedback was written in 2013, so maybe everything has changed since then):

"At the risk of being an old codger pining for the mythical good old days, the company over the past few years has grown by a factor of 2 every 18 months or so,” an anonymous worker wrote. “Facebook ("move fast and break things") does not, at this point, have what I would call a truly functional infrastructure. We’re trying to figure out how the philosophy of empowering people to just build cool things works in a company with 4,000 employees instead of 500; we’re definitely not there yet."

Biased managers 

What makes a good manager?

No organization can be successful without good managers. It’s a fact. Managers help to increase market share, they achieve a hard-working and effective workplace, and they organize employees’ work, becoming their leaders and gurus whose example you want to follow.

Managers should be good at... managing people, actually. What do they do?

  • They take the lead
  • They coach staff
  • They manage teams
  • They influence teams’ culture
  • They are open to new ways of looking at problems
  • They provide meaningful feedback
  • They are good strategists
  • They are good psychologists
  • They are responsible
  • They focus on customers
  • They achieve results

Facebook managers definitely fit all above mentioned features. Or don’t they?

"…There was a time when life wasn’t so great -- enter Facebook,” a former employee wrote. “I was really unhappy with my manager and was treated really poorly as an admin for the team… As a contractor and backfill for someone on maternity leave, I was temporarily assigned with very little guidance or support, serving two of the worst leaders I’ve ever interacted with. The team treated me like garbage and I was asked to really inappropriate tasks (i.e. separating the director’s laundry complete with his wife’s dirty undies still attached). The tone of voice people used was belittling and self-right[e]ous. I found them snobby, cliquey and frankly, rude.

“Instructions were not clear, everything was a guessing game, and I was immediately set up to fail. And when I didn’t perform (duh), I was told I lacked intuition as a professional."

Pride and prejudice 

Every good company tries to do its best to organize their office and get maximum productivity and more things done. Time management, work plans, schedules, reporting – no big corporation is possible to imagine without all these. Corporate culture, networking and communication between employees are all important, of course, but everything has its time and place. 

According to some workers of Facebook, this company pays more attention to personal communication and the success of every employee, making them concentrated on building networks and becoming good fellows with colleagues. Constant corporate activities make it hard to understand when they WORK actually and when they get all tasks done:

"The first two days of orientation are spent mainly on you understanding the culture,” another former employee anonymously wrote. “While I believe and understand that the culture is important, the emphasis seems too much. Instead of a heavy focus on what "Make an Impact" means to the company and your particular role, it’s more about how not to break the circle of trust with the cool people… I walked away from that orientation terrified that if I didn’t find something that would put my name in neon lights within three months, I would be fired… My first month was a whirlwind. If you are not use[d] to a Bay Area company, it can be overwhelming. The food, alcohol, and constant distraction with extra-curricular activities makes it hard to believe anyone gets any work done.”

Infantile hipsters

When you create your own startup, it can’t stay your "little child" forever, can it? You want it grow, develop, and turn into a big and strong corporation... Facebook has passed this stage already, and that’s why it is weird to hear such comments from its employees:

"The worst parts of working at Facebook… Knowing that you’re part of a large company trying to act like a young one. This is kind of like an Adam Sandler movie where he’s old but wants to act like a teenager. Awkward."

Bad offices and low salaries 

No one wants to work at a bad workplace and earn a low salary. Unfortunately, such bad conditions are taken for granted when it comes to small companies or unknown startups, but you would hardly believe if you heard some Facebook employees weren’t satisfied with their salaries, would you?

However, some people refused to work at Facebook for this reason: 

"The workplace is awful,” Daad Khujli wrote. Yup, you heard that right! Forget the free food, drinks, etc. When you have huge rooms filled with rows and rows of picnic style tables with people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with six inches of separation and zero privacy, I am sorry.... That’s how you keep cattle in the pen, not high quality talent earning low to mid six figures."

"You work at Facebook, you must know!"

What can be worse? People are strongly convinced you should know all details of this field just because you work there. And it does not matter if you are a content marketer or a manager’s assistant, for example: if you work at Facebook, you should know how Facebook works. 

It’s not about Facebook only: people’s prejudices are that translators should know and understand all languages, a system administrator should know Java, C++ and PHP, and if you are a close friend or relative of this person – you’ll definitely help them solve all related problems. Moreover, they always show their sincere surprise when you say you don’t know anything about that. 

"My husband worked at Facebook for a couple of years as a data scientist, and I believe one of the worst things for him about working there was being a recipient of any complaints anyone had about the site, often as soon as they learned that he worked there,” Elaine Smith wrote. “The complaints were the greatest in number following a redesign, although other regular grievances involved Facebook and privacy concerns or general difficulty with how to use the site. As a Facebook spouse, I was often asked for help on how to use the privacy settings solely on the basis that, being married to someone who works at Facebook, I must know."

See also: Is Amazon Anonymous Putting People Out of a Job?

After all that has been said, what do you think of working at Facebook? Being a young specialist who uses different resources to look for a job, would you risk and agree to work at the world’s largest social network despite all its drawbacks? 

No one said it would be easy, anyway. 

SOURCES
Quora
Mirror
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