How Meta is building a unified company culture in a hybrid workplace

By Tal Saraf
September 7, 2022

At Meta, we move fast. It’s been a guiding principle for us for many years — one that has empowered us to be bold, innovative, and proactive with opportunities that might otherwise die on the vine. 

When the pandemic hit, this core value was tested in ways we could never have imagined. Our long-standing culture embraces speed, so we were more prepared than many. But across the company, we still had to figure out how to adapt to an ever-shifting new normal that was thrust upon us.

And not only that. While the pandemic created an entirely new set of personnel challenges to solve, our growth didn’t slow. In fact, the opposite happened. Over the past two years, Meta has hired and onboarded more than 40,000 employees — all remotely. That’s enough to fill every seat inside Wrigley Field in Chicago and more than the entire population of Menlo Park, California.

This pandemic influx raised some difficult questions: How do we maintain a meaningful and equitable employee experience in a distributed-first work environment? How do we onboard so many people remotely in the most effective way possible? How do we make sure new employees form strong bonds with their coworkers and feel like Meta is a place where they can do career-defining work? What about the sense of connection that comes with a unified on-campus workforce? What tools can we provide — and build — that can create the most integrated employee experience possible?

Our remit in People Engineering is to create the tools that allow all employees to be connected and fulfilled, whether it’s their first day of remote onboarding as an account manager in Tokyo or their 10th year as a production engineer splitting time between their home and our Toronto engineering hub.

But with that level of growth happening remotely, and amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, the questions posed above become at once more challenging and more important to solve. Our team rapidly began imagining how we would achieve our goals in a distributed-first environment, with the concept of cohesive connection at the center. 

The solution? Building what we call the Integrated Employee Experience, or IEX, a framework that supports employees through an integrated suite of work and life tools and intuitive learnings. Previously, I’ve discussed principles for maximizing hybrid work and how to build processes and products that enable employees to feel connected and be their most productive selves, no matter where they choose to work. The IEX model is the evolution of these principles in action. 

In a distributed-first environment, in which people rely upon online tools more heavily, our goal was to reduce the number of places they had to go to find the tools they need. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, Meta used six different products for recruiting, interview preparation, assessing, preboarding, onboarding, and providing performance reviews. Rather than continuing to use that disparate array of tools — some that no longer work for the scale of Meta’s workforce — People Engineering has created a host of new applications and reconfigured old ones that intuitively help support the career and life needs of everyone at Meta in a more streamlined manner. 

IEX brings together an array of life- and career-planning products into a single, integrated space so that employees, regardless of their work experience, can feel supported as they navigate their individual journeys at Meta. These investments, in turn, make people feel more connected, both to one another and to the company. This is already happening, using tools like:  

  • Remote calibrations: Meta holds what we call calibrations, in which managers meet to ensure that we are evaluating all reports fairly and consistently. Rather than return to in-person calibrations, People Engineering retooled and scaled our remote process, allowing for more interactive experiences between managers across multiple locations and geographies working simultaneously and asynchronously. 
  • SquadBots: This automated service puts new hires into a private chat thread on Workplace, Meta’s all-in-one enterprise collaboration software,  so they can make connections immediately. Unlike breakout rooms, this thread doesn’t change members over time, so everyone is able to build relationships and grow together over the long term.
  • 1:1 Tool: This tool helps employees navigate life and career needs by automatically scheduling check-ins with managers, as well as allowing employees to share reflections, notes, and documents with managers, senior coworkers, and fellow recent hires. 
  • #TIL (Today I Learned): This Workplace feed encourages employees to share knowledge, ask for assistance, and make new connections.

Before we implemented IEX, tools like these were often completely disparate, existing in silos. Now, they’re funneled into one cohesive taxonomy that helps create stronger communities online and ensures a level playing field for all employees. We’re continuing to optimize these tools as we build, configure, and scale new solutions that promote holistic growth, efficiency, and inclusivity. 

Remote work is no longer a response to a global health crisis. It’s now Meta’s new normal. In People Engineering, we remain committed to connecting everyone to the life, career, and community support they need to thrive here. That applies to the 40,000-plus people we’ve brought on during the pandemic — as well as to those who were here before that, and those who will join us in the future.