In the post COVID environment, most companies have had to make compromises in terms of letting their employees work from home or other remote locations.
Some of the largest companies in the world, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, have made the decision to offer employees the choice to work remotely on a permanent basis. Others, such as Google, have overcome initial reluctance and allowed full flexibility during COVID and added flexible options after things reopen, presumably in 2022.
There are a number of companies whose CEOs have come out strongly against remote work as a general option. Today, we will review one of them.
Specifically, we take a look at the Netflix work from home policy.
Background – History of Netflix
Netflix, Inc. is a publicly traded (Sym: NFLX) headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Founded in 1997 in Scotts Valley, CA, Netflix has morphed from a company that rented and sold DVDs by mail to its current form – which is an over-the-top content platform, as well as a production company that sells and streams contents.
Netflix streams movies, television series and special shows, out of 40% is original content. By July 2021, it had 209 million subscribers worldwide, 72 million of whom are in the US.
By end 2020, Netflix had 9,400 full-time employees working in 26 offices across 22 countries in four regions: Europe, Middle East and Africa; Asia Pacific, North America and Latin America.
Netflix has its own content production facilities in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Vancouver, Toronto, London, and Madrid.
Netflix’s leadership team is spearheaded by its co-founders, Reed Hastings (it’s current Chairman and CEO) and Marc Hastings (the past CEO).
The average office strength would be 362 employees per office location on the average, if the employees were to be spread evenly across the various offices. In general, the US headquarter locations, and the production facilities have more employees than the average, while some country support offices may have less.
Netflix as a company is opposed to remote work, though exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis, as we explain below. So, there is a relatively low percentage of employees working remotely.
Netflix is headquartered at their indoor/outdoor campus at 100 Winchester Circle, Los Gatos, CA 95032. Their global office locations are as follows:
Area (# of Locations)
|Europe, Middle East, Africa (9)||Amsterdam, Netherlands; Berlin, Germany; London, UK; Madrid, Spain; Paris, France; Rome, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden.|
|Asia Pacific (7)||Hinschu City, Taiwan; Maila, Philippines; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore, Singapore and Mumbai, India.|
|North America (6)||Los Gatos, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Seattle, WA; New York, NY; Salt Lake City, UT and Toronto, Canada.|
|Latin America (4)||Alphaville, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bogota, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico.|
Netflix offices around the globe help them stay close to their end distribution markets, which encompass almost every country in the world with the exception of a few such as Syria, Crimea and North Korea. One other notable exception is China, which does not currently allow Netflix.
Netflix’s Work from Home Policy
In a September 2020 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings described that the practice of allowing employees to work from home was a “pure negative”. Perhaps hyperbolically, he said that he would demand that workers return to the office within 12 hours after a vaccine was discovered.
In July 2021, various anonymous employees shared a variety of perspectives on Netflix’s work-from-home policy. As one Netflix employee put it:
We are remote friendly post pandemic. It may be the case the hiring manager wants someone in [Los Gatos] area. Also, as far as I know nobody is being forced to go back go the office.
Others around the same time commented that they were “permanent remote” or “starting as remote too.”
Work From Home During COVID
Despite the CEO’s statements, and well past the period that vaccines have become available, Netflix continues to allow workers to work remotely due to ongoing concerns with COVID.
Unlike other technology companies, though, Netflix has not made strides towards enabling more flexibility in terms of working from home or in remote locations. The one global exception has been employees who work with the Open Connect – the group that manages Netflix’s CDN. Other exceptions may be made on a case by case basis.
This begs the question of whether this policy is shortsighted in a changing labor market.
How valid is Netflix’s stance?
According to survey results from various industry sources, Netflix is known as a company that offers a fast-paced work environment with highly talented workers. The products and architecture do change fast, which may explain why Netflix seems to prefer that employees work mostly on site with cohesive and collaborative teams.
Regardless, they may face hiring and retaining top level talent, especially in the technology fields, since their work environment has been described as “stressful” and there have been occasional grumbles about the total compensation packages being competitive but not outstanding compared to the big technology companies. Under these circumstances, quality of life considerations may stand out.
Netflix’s Pay Structure
The data reported here is based on surveys conducted by PayScale.
Netflix employees feature a mix of young, mid-level and experienced workers, as shown below:
- Early-career: 23.3%
- Mid-career: 41.1%
- Experienced: 29.5%
- Late-Career: 5.4%
The work force is over 58% female and just under 42% male.
Here are some other breakdowns:
Salary for the Average Netflix Employee
- Overall Average Market Salary Range: $108,000 per year
- Average Bonus: $9,000 per year
Salary Ranges for Netflix Software Engineers
- Salary Range for (Junior) Software Engineers: $71,000 to $196,000
- Average Salary for (Junior) Software Engineers: $118,887
- Salary Range for Senior Software Engineers: $134,000 to $269,000
- Average Salary for Senior Software Engineers: $194,523
Salary Ranges by Gender
- Salary Range for Female Employees: $61,000 to $164,000
- Salary Range for Male Employees: $55,000 to $215,000
In addition to base salary, Netflix employees get benefits, such as:
- Health Insurance
- Life insurance
- Short- and long-term life insurance, disability insurance
- Death insurance
- 401(k) Plans
- Defined contribution pension plans
While the benefits are not outstanding, and bonus levels tend to be smaller than those offered in some other technology companies, the overall package ends up being competitive.
Netflix’s Work from Home Incentives
Since Netflix as a company is not keen on employees working from home – with some exceptions – not many incentives have been officially announced.
Employee surveys revealed that certain perks were available during the COVID induced remote work period, from supplies to pet care and additional health benefits if required.
The Final Word
Unlike a lot of its fellow technology companies – including the giants such as Facebook and Google – Netflix is yet to embrace an overwhelmingly remote working culture. Their reasons for this policy may be solid, only time will tell.
One thing is for sure, the desire to find the best talent in the post-COVID days may be hampered by a near universal work on site policy. We will await developments over the next few years to see where things end up and if the company adopts to the changing demands of the workforce.