Netflix's co-CEO, Reed Hastings, in a candid interview shared his opinions on 2 very important topics - remote working and work-life balance. His contrarian views raised some eyeballs and became the talking point in a lot of places, including Remote Clan, thanks to Justin 😉
Now, in fact, I like people sharing different or contrarian viewpoints because that's what makes up a healthy discussion. But Mr. Hastings' comments on these topics are quite careless & concerning in my opinion and I will explain why.
I don't see any positives in working remotely
I've never been a big fan of people sharing extremist views - remote work is all sunshine or it is doomed & won't ever work out. We all know it depends greatly on how you approach it and also a lot on the context.
If you're leading a small team, your opinion might be coloured by specific experiences you have with remote working and it may still be fine to have a binary opinion on remote working. However, when you run a company at the scale of Netflix, it is hard for me to comprehend that you see absolutely no positives, even in theory 🤷♂️
Also, as Lindsay pointed out, surprisingly, Netflix is expecting to have more original content next year, yet Mr. Hastings believes it probably is just because of people's sacrifices in the current situation.
Until you're effective, doesn't matter if you work 24/7
When asked about Netflix's rigorous work culture, Mr. Hastings just replied saying that their end goal is effectiveness and as a result, if people spend more time in the office, so be it. He also admitted that Netflix is not for everyone.
It is important to note that Netflix's culture has always been such. Their popular 'keeper test' is a prime example where managers ask themselves, 'Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving for a similar job at a competitor or peer company would I fight hard to keep?'. In conclusion, managers are encouraged to fire employees who aren't stars and in fact, Mr. Hastings himself fired his product chief & long-time friend basis this test after 18 years.
Lucas rightly points out that aligning the notion of work-life balance with the goal of rapid growth in a startup is tough. But Netflix is hardly a startup, burnouts are real and it is quite careless for Mr. Hastings to make such statements. Sacrifices are fair if they're rare, but not as a lifestyle.
In conclusion, if nothing else, this interview poses a very pertinent question - Is sacrificing balance simply inevitable if you have a strong desire to grow?
Whether you agree or feel otherwise, make sure to voice your opinion here - we're all ears👂