Productivity | Should you let staff watch Netflix at work?

Should you let staff watch Netflix at work?

We’re all hooked on the latest dramas like Black MirrorStranger Things, and House of Cards…but is it ever acceptable to watch it at work?

A Netflix study found that 37% of people who took its poll on Survey Monkey admitted to having watched the streaming site at work. The convenience of watching on even a mobile device is all too tempting to some – but can they really justify it?

Policing of other personal activities such as checking your texts or personal emails while at work has only recently relaxed, with bosses realising that to try and police it was near impossible and that the focus of management should be measuring the results they yield. Some jobs even require company profiles to be active on social media at all time and so it makes sense to encourage the influence of the company, however, this is not something you can do through Netflix.

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Of course, you would naturally think that watching Netflix at work is an instant no-no, and the University of Ohio’s 2012 study found that when you try and Multitask at work, it almost always damages performance levels. However, one thing they found is that it significantly increases morale and happiness levels, something that is crucial especially in a high-stress work environment. It was clear from the start that watching TV or Netflix relaxes the mind and body – but whether it’s acceptable “rest” at work is a different thing altogether. We know that many companies now, including Huffington Post and Google, allow napping time at work, so why not Netflix time?

There is another argument for not allowing your employees to watch Netflix during work hours and that is to prevent destigmatising it. If Netflix was to be widely accepted in the office as something you can put in the background while doing the ever-dull but needed administrative tasks, that may encourage leaving it on all day and subsequently, you enter an office of half-distracted film buffs. Not what you want in a law firm or investment agency. As well as the added distraction, Netflix at work retracts from a crucial team-building and organisational skill: colleague interaction. Officevibe conducted a real-time report on Employee Engagement and found only 13% of workers felt engaged at work. With the encouragement of antisocial behaviour in the form of binging the latest 13 Reasons Why, you could lead to further disinterest in the workplace and this could result in an exodus of some of your staff.

On the other hand, there is evidence to suggest that Netflix might not be the demon in disguise that people actually believe it to be. In fact, it may be better to allow almost total freedom of staff, allowing them to dictate their timetables and choose what to do while at the desk. The University of Pennsylvania performed a study in 2014 which found that employees actually tend to work harder, for longer, and better when given autonomy over schedules and less intervention in their work. Jon Brodksy, US Manager of, says that “great managers empower their crew to do things that they may not have thought possible. This means encouraging them to make their own decisions”. Maybe the best form of management isn’t too hands-on, else you may fall victim to micro-managing. Providing the results still come through, what’s wrong with some background episodes of Narcos?

Watching shows during work is still widely frowned upon. This being said, if we look back to a decade ago, so was wearing casual clothes in the office and having naps in the downtime. If your employees are happy and the workflow is still of high quality, then do managers have a right to complain? Maybe this new revolution won’t be televised, but it might well be on Netflix.

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