The Toilet Dilemma of the Big Internet Factory

In the eyes of management, toilets are the enemy of efficiency. Toilets are the last part of a large plant management system, a system that does what it takes to occupy employees for as long as possible, allowing them to create more capacity per unit of time.

The unspeakable nuisance.

At Spellbound, where to go to the bathroom is a multiple-choice question. Liu Xiaoran is a veteran who has been writing code for three years, and he clearly knows the difference between the optimal solution and the ideal solution. Going to the in-house toilet is the ideal solution, but with thousands of people on each floor and only 8 pits, “it takes 20 minutes to line up every time you go”. Of course, you could go the extra mile and rub up against the toilets of other companies in the building, but it would be somewhat embarrassing in case you were discovered. The third option was to go to the toilets in the Jin Hong Qiao mall on the ground floor of the building, but it would take ten minutes to get there, and if you chose the wrong one, you would not only be delayed in the demand for the product you were being pushed for, but you would also have to suffer for a while longer.

It was a day in July. Liu Xiaoran decided to choose the third one, taking the longest elevator ride and going to the farthest toilet. It turned out later that he had picked the right one, because the dude who picked the wrong one had solved the need for poop in the urinal.

Over the next few days, the embarrassing scene in the urinal in the 28th floor of the men’s room at the Spido headquarters spread throughout the company, and also became the talk of the Internet community. A colleague wanted to give Liu Xiaoran found pictures of the scene, he refused.

Others took it as a joke, Liu Xiaoran felt sad. There are many kinds of freedom in this world, but the freedom of the toilet may be the most easily ignored one. Liu Xiaoran admits, spelling is located on the high floor of the beautiful scenery, he turned his head in the work station to the west, a wide view, “can see Shanghai very beautiful sunset. “He is about 25 years old, with an 18 salary, but also in Shanghai to see such a view, has been more free than many people; but on the other hand, the other side of the window glass, reflecting the compact and crowded work station, an anxious face. Everyone lives a life of going to work at 11:00 and leaving work at 11:00, working six days a week, and even going to the bathroom has become an exercise in endurance. Whenever he couldn’t endure, he repeatedly thought, “High wages here, high wages here.”

Toilets are not only a necessary facility for modern life, but in a sense, they also symbolize civilization. American author Julie Holland writes in Toilet Gods: The History of Civilization in the Toilet, “Civilization did not originate with the invention of writing, but with the first toilet. Waste disposal allowed people to stop wandering around hiding from their own feces, and thus eventually settle. The sites of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley had the most primitive systems of cesspools and sewage disposal, suggesting the beginning of what we now call the civilized world.”

Clearly, civilization has given way here in the spelling and lost to an urgent physiological need. In fact, mankind’s struggle with toilets hasn’t stopped for thousands of years. Just as two river valleys invented cesspools and sewage systems, today’s Internet companies have been racking their brains over the issue of employee toilets.

As soon as the Pinto’s toilet controversy subsided, in October, fast-food toilets made the headlines in Internet circles again. The problem of toilet difficulties, can be said to be a common mountain on the head of the employees of spiduo and fast hands. Fast hands of the administration, in the top of a toilet additional installation of a timer, black screen can be accurate to the second, to show how long the person squatting inside. Some people joked that Racer had become a “quick reliever”. Even some of the quick hands employees also feel surprised. Lin Tao is the software engineer of the fast hands, at first still do not believe, special ran over to see before believing. “It looks like a sign to show the public, now we all know how long it takes you to take a shit. “

The name “toilet” is derived from the Latin word for ” The word “privacy”. But in the densely populated Internet factory, toilets are more like a scarce resource that needs to be controlled. After this incident, a small customer service special microblogging explanation: “The fact is that the location of toilets in the Racer campus is limited, the queue for employees to go to the toilet is serious, but due to the building structure restrictions, it is difficult to increase the construction of toilet pits in the building. This time in a toilet pit installed a timer, in order to test the number of times per day bathroom use and time, easy to determine the number of additional mobile toilet pits needed. “

While having a more legitimate purpose, it is clearly a discomfort-filled – invasion for those who use the toilet. In a company’s many spaces, the toilet is one’s last independent space. For Chinese Internet companies, which are extremely sensitive to the number of users, the number of mobile Internet users has peaked at 1.14 billion today. In the past, the era of laying down and acquiring customers along with the traffic dividend is gone, all the companies are facing the game of stock market, a more need to compete with the efficiency of employees began to compete.

Fast responded with a timer to test the number of times and hours of bathroom use per day in order to determine the number of additional portable toilet pits needed.

Toilets are the enemy of efficiency.

Before graduating, Liu Xiaoran never thought that fighting with toilets would be part of the job.

More than two years ago, he had just graduated from his bachelor’s degree. The first day when he came to the headquarters of Shanghai sparring, looking up at the 144-meter-high Jin Hongqiao International Center, is the shape of a pair of pants, a friend joked with him, “how this building like a person’s lower body. “At that time, he was a young man full of passion for life, like Kobe Bryant, like to climb mountains. Now, under the spell “11-11-6” grind, the last time to climb the mountain has been a year ago. Due to a long period of not eating breakfast and staying up late to write code, in the early hours of the morning to eat another meal, weight gain of 15 pounds.

Crucially, he feels his ability to hold his urine has improved. “I try to drink as little water as possible every day, and if I pee, I take it in the mall during lunchtime downstairs. “That way when I get back to work, I can ‘not go to the bathroom for at least three hours.'” “. And after the spelling toilet incident, he tried to force his daily midday bowel movement to adjust his biological clock to the morning before he left the house. After a few constipation attempts, he succeeded.

In Shanghai’s Changning District, the Grade A office building that Spelling is renting, the Jin Hongqiao International Center, is a local landmark, and the entire building has a total of 24 passenger elevators with all the associated amenities. Prior to the arrival of Spindle, 7 or 8 of the world’s top 500 companies, such as BMW China and Herbalife, were leasing offices in this building, and they rated it as “good for everything”. “. But when spiduo came, everything changed. 2017, spiduo just came when there were only 1000 people, after rapid expansion, now the size of the staff has been 6 times the then, but the toilet can not follow the expansion of 6 times.

If you grade the tightness of the toilets of internet companies, Sparto and Faster can be ranked in the first tier. The two companies are in the most competitive short video and e-commerce fields, both in the start-up phase, and both rely on rented office buildings. Fast hands CEO Suhua has made an interesting analogy, the early fast hands is like a nomadic, with the five road as the center of the circle, every year or two will expand the office area to a new place. The latest nomadic location, is the Lenovo North Research Park, the first floor of two blocks in the middle of the elevator and toilets, hundreds of workstations on four pitches.2017 to 2018, the number of employees of fast hands exceeded from 1,000 to 8,000.2020, fast hands are open to 10,000 + jobs. As the company expanded rapidly, toilet space per capita plummeted, and the pace of the move couldn’t keep up with staff growth.

Followed by millet, the United States of America such companies that believe in the culture of hard work, relying on a hard battle to occupy a place in the Internet world, employees in the company too long, peak hours, toilets are also often queued. Relatively speaking, companies with less serious toilet queuing problems are those that don’t work a lot of overtime and have self-built parks, such as Tencent, Sina, Baidu and the like, which have already achieved fame and success and will carefully consider the number of toilets when planning their parks. As for Alibaba, it is a special existence, the Ali Park in Hangzhou, the number of toilets do not worry. But it varies according to the time period and department, for example, during the Double 11 period, there are too many people working overtime and the toilet resources become tight.

Almost every employee of a large factory has unforgettable memories of going to the toilet. Some of them had to run six floors in a row to finally find a spot; others had to wait halfway through the queue, and then remembered that they forgot to send an email, and after sending it, they had to come back again; some of them had to wait outside the toilet door, and then the sound of playing “King of Glory” came out of the door; the worst experience was waiting for half a day to go in, and then found that the last colleague who was in a hurry to go to the work site forgot to flush the water. ……

Compared to the average employee, toilets may be the most minute issue in the perspective of managers at a large Internet factory. “Our level is generally responsible for the tactical level of the company, how to improve employee efficiency is what we worry about. “Liu Hai, who has worked as a professional manager in several Internet companies, said.

Three years ago, Liu Hai was the director of a department at a portal company located in Houchang Village, “We were under much more pressure than the employees below us. At that time, we reported to our vice president and were required to answer the phone within three rings, and if we were one ring late, we were fined 1,000 yuan. “At the most, he had 27 meetings a day. For an employee at the director’s level, the hours were flexible, “but I actually worked more overtime than the staff, working six and a half days a week and sleeping just four or five hours a day. “He also acknowledges that the pressure is decentralised and in order to meet the corresponding growth targets, it is important to find ways to get staff to spend more time at work.

In this sense, the toilet is the enemy of efficiency in the eyes of management. Toilets are the last part of a large factory management system, a system that does what it takes to occupy employees for as long as possible, so that they can create more capacity per unit of time.

In this regard, spelling is quite “successful”. 2019, spelling in 6000 employees of the efforts of the platform turnover of more than 1 trillion yuan, which means that the spelling of the platform will be more than 1 trillion yuan. More per capita to create GMV (total turnover) of nearly 170 million yuan, each person per day to support the number of orders for parcels close to 10,000, “people effect than” hit a new industry high.

In March this year, Tencent to “often late, early retirement, long-term not on duty” as the reason, dismissed a game platform department senior engineer. The two sides once went to court. In court, Tencent specially called up the video surveillance in February and March 2019, in order to prove that this employee sits at the work station every day for less than 8 hours. Some netizens questioned, “If you go to the bathroom, resulting in not enough time to sit at the work station, should you also be fired? “

Find the freest pit stop

In the 3rd century B.C., Sargon I, the ruler of Mesopotamia, left the most famous achievement of mankind by building six toilets in his palace. These were the first toilets in the history of mankind – a horseshoe-shaped seat ring built over a dung pit.

It’s just that the ancients who first invented toilets could never have imagined that thousands of years later, people would start using big data and information technology to manage your toilet habits.

360 is at the forefront of Internet companies in the matter of how to help employees find toilets faster. “Our company has developed a small program called ‘Where to Squat’, which you can click on to see which floor toilet pitches are free. “Today, Qian Mu, who has worked at 360 for four years, said the program was also developed to solve the pain points of employees going to the toilet – the 360 campus is divided into two blocks, AB, and Block A has only three pits on each floor for both men and women. It’s often the case that you’ll be able to find the best way to get the job done.

Qian Mu said that the “Where to Squat” app originated from an internal challenge. In the fourth Geek Challenge, a nine-member team developed a demo of a project to find a pothole in the toilet, which can be sensed by hardware devices to find out if there are people in the pothole and the time it takes. For this reason, a slogan was created, “Convenient for everyone to conveniently and comfortably do comfortable things”.

As the most private and most heavily used facility in every Internet company, the toilet often reflects the personality of an Internet company. Just like the 360 company engaged in technical background, with the method of writing programs to solve the toilet problem, has been strictly manage the employees of the spiduo toilet wall is posted: do not bring mobile phones to the toilet. As long as you squat down, you can see a sentence that urges you to. “Time is precious, toilets are dry”.

Word hopping has always focused on user experience, and the cartoons hanging in the toilets talk about the need to improve user experience. Alibaba’s toilets have become a place to promote Ali’s values, and for a period of time in 2019, Ali’s toilets will be promoting Jack Ma’s “theory of good fortune” on the internal propaganda screen. “: “Being able to do 996 is a huge blessing …… “

In order to reduce the amount of time employees spend in the toilets, Byte Beats has taken a more straightforward approach – disconnecting the toilets.

The company’s employees have all experienced that before October of this year, the office toilets in Zhichunli were shielded from wifi and 4G signals. At that time, Zhou Mingming just started, into the toilet once thought it was their iPhone signal problems, but also restarted a few times, only later to know blocked. When he got home, he exclaimed to a friend, “Can you believe it? I can’t swipe the jitterbug in the byte toilet! “

Now that Byte has relocated to a new office building in Dazhong Temple, there are three times as many toilets, but they still block the signal. After a test by Zhou Mingming, he found that this signal blocking system is not perfect, and there are a few pits that still have a signal. These days, people are discovering this one after another, and finding the freest pitches may be human nature and an invisible resistance to extra long working hours, so those few pitches become extremely sought after.

For some people, going to the bathroom has significance beyond its intended function. Little Green, an employee of a large factory, strives to stay half a minute longer whenever she goes to the black-painted toilet cubicle. The small space gives her a sense of security, where she lets off some steam and gets back to fighting. Zhou Tong, a programmer at a short video head company, goes to the bathroom every day as the first thing she does after coming to the office. Accordingly, at night, every day driving home is often already 10 o’clock, he also wants to stay in the car for a while. At those moments when he yearns to escape but can’t, the toilet and the driver’s seat are the only space a worker can breathe.

And compared to other Internet companies that have come up with all kinds of toilet management solutions, the most Buddhist of all is Baidu.

“Our toilets are simply too ordinary to be ordinary. “Baidu has been an engineer at Baidu for five years, Wu Xiaoming said, Baidu’s toilets are basically unadorned, the entire wall is white, the door is also white, and nothing else. Toilets without signal blocking, even unlimited time, Wu Xiaoming many times heard the toilet people playing games, watching videos, some a fight is half an hour.

Before this year, Baidu is a flexible work system, no attendance and no punch cards. One time, Wu Xiaoming went to see an exhibition in the morning, until the afternoon to go to the company, the results also no one said he. However, he also feels that this year, a little more tightly grasped, “our department leader told us in the group, now to take attendance, we pay attention to a little, said when the tone is very euphemistic, he may think, in the Internet company to assess attendance is a very embarrassing thing! . “

However, Wu Xiaoming also lamented that in the BAT, TMD, Jingdong, and Piduo, these Internet companies, Baidu has indeed been almost unable to keep up with the pace. He is somewhat pessimistic, “Perhaps, the Internet companies fall behind, it starts from the toilet. “

A self-sustaining world

What does a typical day look like for a large factory employee? Go to work, take requirements, write code, mixed in between any person needs to experience, but rarely mentioned – eat, drink, shit, sleep. And this day after day repetition, in a large factory thus creating the rise and fall, people become these high-speed movement of the giant, an insignificant part.

Faced with double 11 and the future double 12, Liu Xiaoran no longer expects to rest. “I’m ready for 60 days of no rest. “He specially bought a folding bed so that he can lie down for a while when the company stays up late.

This year is the fifth anniversary of sparring, facing rising traffic costs and the pressure to find new growth points. It’s also a good idea to have a good deal more than just a few of these.

It’s also the same time period, spelling more employees received notice, 12:00 noon to 2:00 meal break time reduced to 1 hour. Liu Xiaoran’s team has begun to rank everyone’s overtime hours internally. One month, he took two days of casual leave, making the entire month’s work hours only 280 hours, ranking the entire group last, for which he was specifically approached to talk, received a criticism, “said I lacked the fighting spirit, effort and dedication. “

After that, he no longer dared to work less than 300 hours a month, and at 26 days a month, he had to go to work more than 11.5 hours a day. “The specific approach was to never be the first to leave the department after work. “But in the end, people don’t want to be the first to leave, even if they dawdle, until 12 o’clock.

A similar story has also happened in Jingdong.In 2019, Liu Yang experienced the Jingdong layoffs under the Internet winter storm, the final elimination of 10% of the executives. At that time, Liu Qiangdong made a speech, saying that Jingdong does not need three types of people – “people who can’t struggle, people who can’t dry, and people with low cost performance “. What Liu Yang had to do was to do everything in his power not to become one of those three types of people.

“It had become a hidden assessment target to go to the bathroom for too long, and you had to be criticized for going to the bathroom for too long. “It had become an unspoken rule to compare who left later. Some people were colleagues who had lunch together yesterday and left the next day with their suitcases. Those who stayed didn’t feel too good either, as their workload tripled.

As Liu Qiangdong said in an open letter: “the life of people is not my brother”, Jingdong has a “brother factory” nickname, and Alibaba’s “Fubao factory” nickname echoes each other.

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed Google’s online search engine in a student dormitory at Stanford University. 2004, Google built an office park in Mountain View, Northern California, from then on depicted the blueprint of the IT professionals’ dream: endless food, lazy sofas everywhere, employees can take their dogs to work … …American writer Nikhil Sawal writes in The Cubicle: A History of Office Evolution that “Google’s headquarters, the Googleplex, is the headquarters of Google Inc. “It was meant to be a self-sufficient world. People didn’t need to leave the park to do anything at all; in fact, with endless snacks and treadmill desks, you hardly had to move your nest to survive. “

Since then, this self-sufficient life has become standard in large factories. You could eat, shower, and sleep in the company, and you could never leave the company if you wanted to. And with this, the company took greater occupation of its employees, down to the last inch of freedom of the toilet.

Google’s modern toilets have also made their way into the media coverage, with toilets that can be dried, cleaned and heated, a place that not only addresses physiological needs, but also makes people want to relax and stay a little longer. Google has written internal tests to train employees to spot problems with its software. These “tests on the toilet” were posted in about 500 toilet cubicles at Google, where a group of people who called themselves the “Toilet Tests” were trained to find problems with the software. The engineers of the Google Test Team proudly proclaim, “This is what inspired us.” Tips for Developers to Write Quality Code”.

At the moment of critical turning points in internet companies, the toilet, as the most end of the system, will also have a chain reaction. In the fierce struggle with competitors, in June 2019, the always moderate, low-key Cebuhua, borrowed the momentum of the former Ren Zhengfei’s comments “Huawei’s winter”. Co-named Cheng Yixiao sent out an internal letter full of reflections, stating bluntly that “we are no longer the fastest team”. “We were very unhappy with the status quo, the loose organization, the Buddhist attitude, the “slow company.” It is becoming a label for us. It’s making it hard for us to sleep and eat.” “The battle of K3 is officially underway, and Racer has decided to take the fight to… “Wolf” transformation, the development of the Spring Festival before the realization of 300 million DAU target, the sword shakes.

During that time, some employees eat and live in the company, not only the toilet queue more drama, used to give overtime employees to rest in the sleep cabin, but also become a tight location.

Even foreign companies are the same when it comes to toilets and efficiency. Amazon has a pretty strict last-minute elimination mechanism, and Facebook’s information reviewers only have a total of two short 15-minute breaks and a 30-minute lunch break. There are often long lines at the restrooms, with hundreds of employees sharing one urinal and two men’s stalls, as well as three women’s stalls. Like a timer set up in a fast-moving toilet cubicle, the clock dings and dings, counting every second you escape from work.

Even if the toilets of spiduo has been overwhelmed, but still does not affect spiduo continue to recruit, especially in the new business “more groceries” expansion, the front line in urgent need of a lot of manpower at the critical moment.

Just a dozen days ago, Liu Xiaoran passing by the conference room also saw, a group of young faces are waiting to join spiduo more. Outside the door, 2021 school recruitment posters placed in the corridor, there are five big words: “no spelling not youth”.

(At the request of the interviewee, the people involved in the text are pseudonyms)