Since I have a lot of flexibility at my workplace, I’ve decided that Friday is going to be fun project time for my group. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to start making games or anything of that nature. Instead it simply means that I will use Fridays to further projects that aren’t specifically scoped into a current release or designed at this time.
For example, right now I’m building a reporting framework that allows a user to drag and drop different data classifications to the x and y axis of a data table, while allowing heads and subheads, so that a user can pivot the data in any way they choose. This hasn’t been scoped out officially at this point, but is related to my day to day work and I could see a lot of the concepts involved as having value to the product I’m working on.
I’m also going to use Fridays as a day to go back and update legacy code, or refactor a previous solution where I have new ideas.
If I’m always working on scoped projects, when will any of this stuff ever get done? Easy question – never. The only exception to this concept is if I’m under a tight deadline on a project and need the day for that project. I think that goes without saying.
There’s a lot of history behind this concept — Google, for instance, has 20% time. This is a well known perk where employees get 20% of their time to work on projects that may or may not lead to something. It’s worked out pretty well for them — I heard Maps started as a 20% project. Even before that, HP had a similar kind of 20% time that I have heard was responsible for getting the first inkjet printer made. Some companies have Hack Days as well. Days when the development teams will take 24 hours and work on fun projects that they want to do and see if they can come up with something that holds value for the company.
I feel that not only is this time important to the financial success of your company, but also to the mental health of your employees. If you know that one day a week you get to work on your own personal projects then that goes a long way towards eliminating burnout and being more invested in the company and its success.
If it can truly be that important to the success of a company and its employees, isn’t it worth the potential cost?