Productivity Confidential: Productivity with a Purpose
Companies in industries from tech to retail to hospitality have found a novel way of getting their employees to be more productive: They let their staff pursue their passions, on company time. It may seem counterintuitive, but by allowing personnel the opportunity to do anything from volunteer to create a fully operational nonprofit, firms are giving their people a chance to connect with their communities, learn new skills, and come back to the office energized and invigorated.
In this episode of Productivity Confidential, we talk to Richard Achée, global technology partnerships lead on the Google Chrome enterprise team, about his experience in Google’s famed “20% Time” program, where employees can use a full fifth of their time to pursue personal projects. Achée discusses his own 20% Time project, how it helped him do his day job better, and how other companies can let their staff follow their dreams without hurting the bottom line.
Highlights from the podcast:
TED BROWN: I want to bring it back a little bit to your personal experience with the [80/20 Innovation time off] program, and ask how that 20% time has influenced your 80% time when you’re doing your day job.
RICHARD ACHEE: When I started this 20% time project, I was already doing well enough at work. But I’d have to admit I probably wasn’t the most efficient human being in the world. We all have things we could improve. And I started this 20% time project, and I got approval without hesitation from my manager. She strongly encouraged me to do it just because for the sake of the program, she just thought it was a great idea, didn’t think about okay this could teach you this skill or that skill. Although in the case of what I was doing, learning Python, learning to code, and then teaching others was definitely a great way to improve my technical acumen.But it was more around, she just believed in 20% time, all the people I know and work with.
So in terms of my productivity though now is similar to playing sports in school. If I looked at my grade point average, it was much higher during sports seasons than it wasn’t because… give a task to a busy person, right? Because they’re going to find a way to make it work, and they’re going to be much more efficient. They don’t have time to, for example, go onto social media during the day. They just simply know that if they want to be able to do both without stringing themselves out, and working 20 hours a day, they need to find a way to make that 80% a lot more productive. And from impersonal experience I’ve seen that has a tremendous effect on my performance.
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