Whether you’re working for a small business or a huge corporation, some things you’re probably familiar with include: tracking your hours, monitoring your annual leave and getting expenses approved.
However, for some salaried employees these are things they don’t need to worry about…
Netflix: No official working hours
Since 2004, employees at Netflix have been allowed to take as much holiday leave as they please.
They can choose when to show up for work, when to take time off and even decide how much time it will take them to complete a job.
As far as the company’s success goes since instituting the policy, Netflix has grown its market capital to over $51 billion (£40 billion).
The flexibility of the company doesn’t mean it lacks accountability. Employees at Netflix have to keep their managers up-to-date and the work that they produce is expected to be of the highest level.
In fact, high performance is so integrated into the business culture that employees are rewarded with a generous severance package.
Rather than micromanaging how people go about completing their work tasks, the leadership focuses only on what matters—results.
Netflix found that providing people with greater autonomy creates a more responsible culture, and without the distraction of rules, employees are able to focus more on productivity.
When the company still operated with the typical time-tracking policy, employees asked an important question:
“We don’t track the time we spend working outside of the office—like e-mails we answer from home and the work we do at night and on weekends—so why do we track the time we spend off the job?”
Management listened. They couldn’t deny the simple logic behind the question.
Netflix employees work when work needs to be done, from wherever they are.
That’s “after hours” out the window….
Agent Marketing: 6-hour working days
Not quite like ‘working whenever you want’, but a British company based in Liverpool, Agent Marketing, has shortened its working day from eight hours to six – inspired by Sweden’s 6 hour working day model to boost wellbeing and efficiency.
Employees, who usually attend work from 8:30am until 5.30pm, have shifted this to a 9am until 4pm day with a compulsory one-hour lunch break where they have to leave their desks.
Ben Spencer, the company’s head of creative says: “It was strange. In the middle of winter, when we leave the office its already dark, but an early finish meant I was coming out of the office into daylight.”
The extra time means that employees have more time to enjoy hobbies. “I like to snowboard, so one day I finished early and went to an indoor ski slope in Manchester which meant I beat the evening rush,” Spencer says.
“It was brilliant – I pretty much had the whole slope to myself. It’s also nice to be able to go home and spend a bit more time with my fiancée and daughter,” he added.
Should every company approach working hours in the same way?
While these working modules work for Netflix and Agent Marketing, they may not work for every business.
Netflix itself acknowledges that the high-performance culture is not for everyone — especially those who “value job security and stability over performance.”
The key, however, involves hiring the best people you can, and clearly identifying what the overall goals are — so that employees can take things into their own hands and understand what needs to be achieved.
Sweden introduced six-hour working days and sees benefits