I’ve been thinking for a while on work hours issues, with frequent debates in the company I manage, and more recently as we talked of the R.O.W.E. method with friends. I had the feeling something was missing or not balanced in the discussions. At least until I read the Netflix Culture Reference Guide.
In my opinion, a great freedom in your work necessarily means a bigger responsibility on your result. This means compensation and sanctions are based only on results, and not on seniority or quantity of work (and obviously not on friendship…). This were Netflix excels in my mind: their compensation system is smartly balanced. They give a great freedom to their employee, including unlimited vacations. But on the other side, they are extremely demanding: an adequate work is not enough to keep your job.
As a CEO, this is exactly how I would like to work, though sometimes I moved backward when I faced excessived behaviour. I’ve heard a lot of people expressing their whishes to work in this kind of environment, but I’m not sure they consider the whole system. For instance, someone might be fired if his results are not sufficient, even if he has worked twice as much as an average employee. It takes a great maturity for the employee to accept this responsibility. For what I’ve seen, at least in France, we’re far from this culture, but I’ll continue to move toward it.
In the meantime, as Netflix underlines, this culture (responsible employee, result-based compensation system) is probably the best one for a knowledge industry such as Internet businesses, where innovation is key. You just don’t want any constraints that might stiffle innovation: there’s no specific hours when it occurs !