I love the idea of the Google 20% rule. I’m sure everyone has heard of it at this point but if you haven’t, it allows members of the Google team to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions. A couple of weeks ago I decided to see if we could take this same sort of philosophy on at LooseKeys.
It seems like time is never on our side, we have a limited amount and squeezing in another side project, a podcast or even a short isn’t always an option. Typically studios and freelancers work on personal projects either when it’s slow or if someone wants to put the extra time in at night. Extra time at night… well, I don’t always have that luxury either. So having the time to explore some of these side projects or ideas during the day, during working hours seemed like a great idea.
It’s only been a few weeks since we started tying this out. If 37 Signals and the multiple agencies can do 4 day work weeks in the summer, why can’t we do the same. The work still gets done but rather than using that 5th day of the week that others use for leisure, we’re making it productive. These ideas or side projects allow us to explore and expand our skills and knowledge. Being a small team it can be difficult to commit that 1 day of the week to these projects because things always seem to come up or need to get done. The 20% idea isn’t always set in stone; if some client work needs to get done, then we do it. Or if we feel like working on a job and getting ahead, we do that. The work can’t suffer and the point isn’t to do less work, it’s to allow us to expand our skills, explore new ideas and to create something just for passions sake.
I love the projects we work on and we have a lot of freedom with them. That’s what’s nice about being a small team, you can pick and choose the projects you want; there isn’t a big bottom line to worry about. Even if our projects are fun, there is still a client to please. With these personal projects we can do whatever we want and go whatever direction we choose. By adopting the 20% rule, I believe its helped us to stretch our creative boundaries which can only help us when it comes to our client work the other 4 days of the week.