Virgin Joins Netflix & Adopts Flexible Holiday Working

Sir Richard Branson is hot on the heels of Zappos’s Tony Hsieh in his radical approach in ensuring Virgin culture meets the needs of his people. His latest book “The Virgin Way” recognises the fact that flexible working has revolutionised how, where and when we all do our jobs. He believes the traditional practice of working nine to five no longer applies, and that we should also apply the same philosophy to annual leave policies.

Result? Richard Branson has decreed that 170 members of his staff could “take off whenever they want for as long as they want”, adding that there was no need to ask for approval, nor say when they planned to return, the assumption being that the absence would not damage the firm.

This is not a new idea; the concept was adopted by online TV firm Netflix back in 2010, but the idea was brought to his attention by his daughter, Holly, who told him:

I have a friend whose company has done the same thing and they’ve apparently experienced a marked upward spike in everything – morale, creativity and productivity have all gone through the roof.

Netflix’s ‘Reference Guide on our Freedom and Responsibility Culture’ explains:

We should focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a nine-to-five policy, we don’t need a vacation policy.

Sir Richard commented:

“It is always interesting to note how often the adjectives ‘smart’ and ‘simple’ describe the cleverest of innovations – well, this is surely one of the simplest and smartest initiatives I have heard of in a long time and I’m delighted to say that we have introduced this same (non) policy at our parent company in both the UK and the US, where vacation policies can be particularly draconian.

Assuming it goes as well as expected, we will encourage all our subsidiaries to follow suit, which will be incredibly exciting to watch.We should focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days worked. Just as we don’t have a nine-to-five policy, we don’t need a vacation policy.”

Richard Branson started his company in 1970 and the Virgin Group now employs more than 50,000 people around the world, operating in more than 50 countries. Since then Virgin has traversed through many sectors beginning life as a mail order record company to having businesses in telecoms, travel and financial services.

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Image courtesy of The Virgin Group

The Virgin Way

With over 40 years in business, Richard Branson is an inspiring pioneer of humanitarian projects and an iconic business leader. In The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead, Richard shares and distils his secrets of leadership and success. Featuring anecdotes from his own business dealings, as well as his observations of many others who have inspired him – from politicians, business leaders, explorers, scientists and philanthropists – Richard reflects on the qualities he feels are essential for success in today’s world.

This is not a conventional book on leadership. There are no rules – but rather the secrets of leadership that he has learned along the way from his days at Virgin Records, to his recent work with The Elders. Whether you’re at the beginning of your career, or head of a Fortune 500 company – this is your guide to being your own CEO (Chief Enabling Officer) and becoming a true leader – not just a boss.  More here

Steve Bebbington
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