For many, strolling around San Francisco is a pleasure. But for the optimization-obsessed elites of Silicon Valley, traveling through a world-class city is just laboring tax on their time. Now one former Facebook boss realizes his "soul-crushing" shuttle bus commute out of town was a blessing in disguise.
Sam Lessin, Facebook's former VP of product management, left the social network in August to explore re-entering the startup scene. But now that he's spent six weeks "on the outside," Lessin realizes: "Working at Facebook is like working in a bubble." And he wants back in.
Lessin has a recurring column for his wife's tech news site, The Information. He devoted his latest to praising Facebook's corporate organization. "[Facebook is] highly effective at distributing everything from technology to food on-demand to make employees more efficient." But San Francisco? Not so much:
I underestimated the benefits of a corporate campus that reduces time-spent traveling between meetings and procuring food and services, among other things. [...]
While a high-traffic commute can feel like a soul-crushing waste of time, I have to admit that I probably am not saving a meaningful amount of travel time staying in San Francisco, where instead I am dealing with piecemeal bit-by-bit friction among various activities that were once all in the same place.
For Lessin, the horror of grinding out his daytime hours in San Francisco includes such indignities as stepping outside an office to buy things:
While I worked at Facebook, I had one big tax on time—a roughly 45 minute commute from San Francisco to Menlo Park every day. What I didn't appreciate is the time I saved moving between activities.
At Facebook, my meetings, the gym and food were all within a one or two minute walk. Now, my gym is a few minutes ride away from where I am working. Food requires leaving a building. These little bits of friction add up quickly.
Fortunately, it's not all gloom and nostalgia "on the outside." Lessin has one corporate life hack to keep you running at peak efficiency even off the cushy tech campus:
If you don't work at a company that has a well setup corporate campus, it may be worth paying extra attention to planning your travel and simply not taking meetings to help minimize the ongoing tax.