Netflix CEO turns sour on WFH
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

With families across the Globe stuck inside this past summer and spring, streaming services have risen to the occasion in providing much-needed distractions from our increasingly confined day-to-day lives.

King among the streamers is Netflix, who has maintained a lead in the increasingly competitive streaming market even as heavyweights like Disney+ and HBO Max have come online, offering massive libraries of classic and new content to audiences who have never been more glued to their screens.

All of this would lead one to think that Netflix would be all-in on extending work-from-home (WFH) well into the foreseeable future, as the streamer continues to score big with viral hits like Tiger King and Umbrella Academy making the platform a “must-have” across demographics. But in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Netflix founder and chairman Reed Hastings expressed a markedly different opinion about WFH than his fellow leaders in the tech community, indicating that the sooner folks can return to the office, the better.

“No. I don’t see any positives,” was Hastings’s response when he was asked by the Wall Street Journal recently whether or not all-remote work has been a benefit to their business since COVID-19 began.

“Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative. I’ve been super impressed at people’s sacrifices […] If I had to guess, the five-day workweek will become four days in the office while one day is virtual from home. I’d bet that’s where a lot of companies end up,” Hastings continued.

When asked how long after a vaccine was found it would take for Hastings to instruct employees to return to the office, he offered a half-joking “12 hours” before admitting that the reality would be more like six months. Hastings made sure to emphasize, though, that a return to office-first culture is in the cards for Netflix no matter what.

Despite Hastings’s decidedly anti-WFH tone, his timeline for a return to the office mirrors what’s been predicted by other tech leaders who are balancing long-term employee health with the success of the business. Facebook, for instance, has already said it will let employees work remotely until July 2021 and has cancelled physical events through next June, while Amazon and Microsoft have both said they don’t plan a return to the office until at least January 2022. Google has even gone so far as to instruct employees to stay home until at least July 2021, building on their already incredibly WFH-friendly culture pre-pandemic.

All of these forecasts are contingent on any number of uncertain factors, from the increasingly unclear timeline of when an effective vaccine will officially be delivered to the upcoming presidential election. But what is certain is the fact that even if a large chunk of the workforce stays WFH after a vaccine is developed, enterprises will still have a hunger for the head office (whatever shape that takes).

This will force enterprise IT to maintain performance visibility into a wider array of connections than they did pre-pandemic to tie the enterprise network together in a post-COVID world. That means prioritizing visibility everywhere from the massive 100 Gbps-plus data center campus links to the last-mile residential connections supporting WFH users.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: remote workforce , remote workers , network performance monitoring , network management , network monitoring , home office , remote office , remote work , wfh , work from home , wall street journal , streaming services , streaming , Netflix , enterprise IT