The biggest Silicon Valley companies are known for their amazing offices and employee perks most of us could only dream of.

Tales of personal chefs, free food, massage therapists, in-house yoga classes, free shuttles to work and generous benefits travel far as the likes of Google, Facebook and Apple compete for the best talent.

In this game, Netflix is one of the new kids on the block. The streaming giant has two main headquarters, one in LA and one about an hour down the road from San Francisco in Los Gatos.

On a rainy day in late November, I was part of a herd of journalists to be shepherded around the Los Gatos campus. We were there to talk about the company's push into interactive film — but there's always time for a quick tour.

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After signing a nondisclosure agreement and being told we weren't allowed to take any of our own photos, we were shown the inner sanctum.

In my office, access to a microwave is about as flash as it gets. In this office, even the toilet seats can heat up.

The foyer was the only area we were allowed to take photos.
The foyer was the only area we were allowed to take photos.

The campus on 11 acres is made up of a handful of buildings which started going up in 2014 and now house around 2000 employees, a number that is "growing every day," our guide tells us.

While the LA offices deal more with the Hollywood part of the business, Los Gatos is focused on the tech side of things. In the foyer, the company displays its tech-related TV Emmy Awards. These are the ones you don't hear about — categories like Personalised Recommendation Engines For Video Discovery and Pioneering Development of Non-Live Broadband Captioning. Recognition for the unsung heroes of your binge-watching experience.

Rows of coffee machines and fridges packed with drinks sit next to baskets with the 'snack of the month'. Photo / Supplied.
Rows of coffee machines and fridges packed with drinks sit next to baskets with the 'snack of the month'. Photo / Supplied.

As you enter the main communal area there is a large, purple-lit water feature that reaches to the ceiling on your left and a long, narrow gas-powered fireplace on the right. On the far side is the main open-plan kitchen which sits next to rows of booth seating. In between are communal desks, tables and rows of large wooden benches where employees (and their dogs if they like) congregate, including CEO Reed Hastings who doesn't have his own desk. This was portrayed as amazing "humility" on his part but it just sounds annoying when you need to try to find him.


There are four main kitchens and 14 micro kitchens in the building, all with cute movie and TV show names like "Layer Cake". Netflix wouldn't give me any photos of the main kitchen. (Tech companies may not care too much about your privacy, but they guard their own with vigour. At one point I'm pretty sure I was even escorted to the bathroom.) But rest assured the kitchen was awesome.

On this particular day, there was a taco bar, a salad bar and a grab-and-go counter. On offer (all free, of course) were items like vegan tofu scramble with black beans and capsicum, burritos, and fig jam brie, eggs and vegie sausage wraps.

In case you were wondering, on my salad I chose a pesto ranch dressing which came with a little card informing me of all the allergies one might have that would warrant them to avoid it. To wash it down I went with a can of peach-pear sparkling water from the fridges packed with fancy beverages.

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But if employees somehow left their lunch break disappointed, they could let the company know about it. Perched next to the kitchen was a way to rate their experience.

The data is fed back to the facilities staff area where it is plastered on a plasma TV so they can see how satisfied everyone was with the previous day's spread. The data is also graphed over the long term.

At a place like Netflix, even the cereal is underpinned by analytics.

Could've been better. Four stars out of five. Photo / Supplied.
Could've been better. Four stars out of five. Photo / Supplied.

Lunch isn't the only thing employees get for free. Dotted around the campus are vending machines filled with tech gadgets like chargers, earphones and other accessories like HDMI cables. Need something, just take it — however they still had the price displayed to gently remind staff of the cost of what they were helping themselves and to not take the piss.

Speaking of which, did I mention the Japanese-style toilets with heated seats that squirt your bum?

In the bathroom employees can find bottles of moisturiser, deodorant and mouthwash in a big glass bottle that looks like something you would expect to house some fine cognac.

Yeah, I took a photo of the toilet.
Yeah, I took a photo of the toilet.

On the upper floors is where the real work happens. It's where you'll find the teams that work on ensuring the streaming service works as it should on devices and networks around the world.

There are various labs where employees can test and tinker with the Netflix user interface and engineers toil on how the user experience looks and works on different devices.

There are labs where the company tests its service on a range of different mobile and tablets of varying ages and software types to detect any bugs that might disrupt the platform. Netflix also works with telco operators from around the world including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to simulate network conditions in their home country.

There is even a testing room where Netflix invites customers from the outside world to watch TV in a made up living room while they're being watched from every angle to observe their habits. It's very Truman Show-esque but they get paid about $A100 for an hour's work.

Constant testing is required to ensure the platform works smoothly. Photo / Supplied.
Constant testing is required to ensure the platform works smoothly. Photo / Supplied.

As if to remind everyone about the company's global customer base, there is a space dedicated to emulating living rooms from countries around the world, swapping in a new demographic about every quarter.

When we went through, it was India's turn.

"This is our stab at what you would see if you visited an Indian living room and what you would find," the guide said.

Judge for yourself:

How the company envisions its Indian customers enjoying the service. Photo / Supplied.
How the company envisions its Indian customers enjoying the service. Photo / Supplied.

Of course no Netflix campus would be complete without a big theatre, and next to the main kitchen area is a large auditorium that can fit 267 people.

Outside the theatre entrance, big screens above the main kitchen area flash through different employee announcements.

"Thinking about expanding your family," reads one before giving directions to an internal website with family benefits options and the company's work from home policies.

Sadly, nothing about job openings.