Asked when he expects his employees to return to the office, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings did miss a beat. “Twelve hours after a vaccine is approved,” he joked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Jokes aside, the leader of one of the world’s most powerful entertainment giants thinks working from home is “a pure negative.” Like most companies in the COVID era, Netflix has required employees to work remotely since March. But some companies have found the switch to be pretty amenable, and have floated the idea of making work from home a permanent option. Hastings doesn’t agree.
Hastings is currently working on a book about Netflix’s strange, but groundbreaking office culture. He portrays the company as a constructive, yet cut-throat environment that rewards results, not hours. Still, the shared workspace is a key to the company’s success, Hastings believes. Asked whether he’s seen any benefits from his employees working from home, Hastings replied in no uncertain terms.
“No, I don’t see any positives,” he told WSJ. “Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative. I’ve been super impressed at people’s sacrifices.”
Some big tech companies have already announced that they will give employees the choice of working from home or returning to the office once it’s safe to do so. But even the date of return seems far off. Amazon and Microsoft have each stated that workers must remain remote until January of next year, while Facebook and Google have set a tentative return date of July 2021.
Still, Hastings will not rush his workers back until it’s safe, even though he views the shared workspace as essential.
“It’s probably six months after a vaccine,” he said of when he will recall his staff to the office. “Once we can get a majority of people vaccinated, then it’s probably back in the office.”
Even then, he predicts that working in the office 5 days a week will become a thing of the past. “If I had to guess, the five-day workweek will become four days in the office while one day is virtual from home,” he said. “I’d bet that’s where a lot of companies end up.