Free holidays: “The Virgin Way” and the Netflix way

From yesterday on the web are going around articles with big titles hailing to the miracle in the world of jobs: the main topic is the decision taken by Richard Branson, magnate of Virgin, about giving freedom of deciding their holidays to his salaried staff; if for many this is an incredible news, for Bohemian Wanderer it isn’t at all: if you want to know more about working free from classic times and out of the office, I wrote about this before talking of the book “Remote – Office not required” and being inspired by an odesk.com infographic.

branson_2310994bHolidays. Free. Probably the first thing which comes in mind is: this man is crazy, in Virgin companies everyone will always be in holidays and no one will ever work anymore.

It’s clear that his thought is “no one will ask you when, how or how much you’ll be in holidays, but if you want to keep your job it would be better that the results are remaining the same (if not better)”, but the roots of this way of thinking, and most of all the datas on which this decision is based, have to be searched somewhere else: in Netflix.

“What about Netflix?”, you will ask at this point. I’m about to explain.

As first thing, Richard Branson’s idea which we read from the newspapers comes from his blog on Virgin’s official blog, and it’s an excerpt taken from his new book The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead, in which the magnate, after being elected as the manager whom english employees would like more to have as a boss, explains the secrets of his job and success. Inside this excerpt, Virgin’s creator clearly says he has been inspired by Netflix’s story.

NetflixObviously curious about all this thing, I went to read on Slideshare the document (originally written in 2009) “Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility” in which I found a precise plan of original company organization based on proficiency and productivity instead of the multitude of rules which mostly support a so big entity.

Basically, it happened this: until 2004 Netflix emproyees had, as any other company, a prearranged number of free days. But one day, a worker asked a good question:

since the job of an employed person in the computerized and online ambient we are living often is going over the classic office times, 9am – 5pm, extending to the private time (think about urgent e-mails coming at weird times or to the work that we take home during the weekend) without being counted, why we would have to count the time we pass resting?

From this moment the policy on holidays in Netflix became: there are no policy or tracking on holidays in Netflix. After all, as they rightly say, there’s no policy on clothes in Netflix, but no one ever arrived at work naked, so you don’t have to have a policy for everything 😉

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Screenshot taken from “Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility” – Copyright Netflix.com

The question of free holidays obviously is one of the highest steps in the innovation of Netflix’s company organization: all this couldn’t be existing without a structure being very slim (better one top worker than two average ones), dinamic and meritocratic (if you are not good at your job, you are out) and based on trust, responsibility and team work (a healty and honest ambient, no need to ask the permission to the boss for everything). In the slides, the orientation of Neflix as a company is clear:

Netflix has a culture of creativity and self-discipline, freedom and responsibility.

This model, which would seem incredible, worked: as we read between the slides, with the steps in this direction, from 2002 they have “substantially increased talent density and employee freedom”.

Therefore, it’s not a case that Richard Branson thought to follow Netflix’s footsteps, and this was not a blind choice. What I like about all this is that the number of companies which decide to trust their employees and collaborators is growing, building relationships based on effort, merit and independence: it seems the end of this “job middle age” is coming soon 🙂

You want to read Branson’s book? Buy it on Amazon at this link (so you help me buying more books 🙂 ). Thank you ♡

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