A few minutes outside of Los Gatos, California, there’s a small and unassuming campus that houses the world’s largest movie and TV streaming service.
Netflix’s HQ is technically part of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area south of San Francisco, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Los Gatos is a quiet place with a small-town vibe, and the Netflix offices share that. We took a tour of the place where self-professed movie and TV nerds build a platform that over 100 million people use to watch 125 million hours of content each day.
From the outside, Netflix’s HQ looks clean and straightforward. There are seven different office buildings around the area, with the first few built in an classic Spanish style — but it’s the newer ones that house the product team and all the technical gurus. New ones, too, are just being finished.
The lobby is simple; there’s a lot of there’s a huge TV off to the right that’s always streaming hot fresh Netflix content — with subtitles, of course, to keep the environment quiet. Plenty of polished wood is Netflix’s aesthetic, and there are plenty of live plants to make the indoors feel fresh.
Netflix’s trove of technical Emmys sit in cabinets before the main doors. There’s a popcorn dispenser over to the left — snacks and goodies are all over the place. All of the company’s creative Emmys live at its Hollywood offices, where its studio and marketing teams work. Through those doors is the office itself, at least in one of the seven different buildings around the campus.
There are big communal areas for employees to work at, as well as outdoor spaces that are widely used. Most double as cafeterias, too, with freely available food and drinks for employees to take — and take home, if they want. Netflix doesn’t actually want its staff to hang around in the office 24/7, and while there’s after-hours screenings and meetings, the culture is very work-life-balance focused.
Different areas are set up for different parts of the Netflix business, and teams can decorate however they want. Most of the offices are relatively open plan, but cubicles are available, and there’s free space everywhere. It also helps that most employees apparently work from common areas and outside whenever they’re able and the weather is nice.
The Netflix nerds are the tech support gurus that fix any broken employee devices. There’s also a tech vending machine here, one of a few that are around the Netflix campus. Everything inside — Apple AirPods, network cables, wireless mice, travel power adapters — is free for employees to take as they wish, and prices are displayed just as a reminder.
Building F is Netflix’s newest on the campus for the time being, and that’s where all the designers and visual teams sit. All the buildings in the campus are connected to each other with aboveground walkways for if it’s raining, but the Los Gatos weather is generally pretty balmy and welcoming. On a non-overcast day, apparently, plenty work outside all day. Laptops and tablets are commonplace, and desktop PCs or external monitors are rare.
Netflix has dozens of meeting rooms, each named for a different movie or TV series. Some are set out for small team chats, some are for larger groups — Taxi Driver, for example, has a three-tiered plush coliseum with screens all around, and this is where product managers come for an open session to test their ideas against other employees’ questions.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is set up for screenings as well as presentations. There are others — there’s an entire wing of Studio Ghibli-themed rooms in another building — set up for 1-on-1 or small group chats. Teams can book them whenever they need, and most importantly there are a lot of free rooms so there’s never any chance of clashes.
The artwork around the Netflix offices is, obviously, Netflix-themed. This massive 3-storey mural, designed by one of Netflix’s creative team, has images of characters from all its Originals series. (There’s also an Easter egg of the artist’s dog.) The office is a lot less Silicon Valley tech giant than you’d expect, though. It’s understated and friendly rather than shiny and glossy and imposing.
The pièce de résistance is the main theatre, where viewings of new series and Originals are held every now and then when they’re released — for the employees that haven’t seen them already, at least. Big town-hall meetings are also held here. Netflix is increasingly moving to video for most of its meetings, though. It’s what happens when you have thousands of employees working at once; not all of them can fit in even the largest theatre or screening room.