In 2019 I wanted to riff a little on the "20% time" that many companies try to do and see if we could encourage the team to get out of their comfort zone and learn something new while also feeling like the company is empowering them to do so. It ended up being one of the most loved aspects of our team and everyone looked forward to it every month. Below is the writeup on Open Work Days that I posted on our Confluence to help explain the purpose and execution of an OWD. I highly recommend trying it with your team!
Open work day is a day to break from the routine and build something new or different. It's a day to learn something new, try something new, invent something new, or generally flex your skills as an engineer and a creator. Open Work Day is on the 2nd Friday of every month.
There's only one rule for what you work on during open work days: Whatever you work on, it can't be project/task/campaign related.
It can still be a project that contributes to the company in some way, but it should not be something connected to an existing business requirement, request, or deadline. It should be something no one is depending or waiting on but it's something you believe in, something you are motivated about, or something you are interested in. Take that idea you've had in the back of your head for a while, and knock out a proof-of-concept so that your idea can become something real.
That being said, it doesn't have to be the company related. Do you want to build a small project in a new language? Do you want to try building a VR app? Do you want to try cracking a WEP WiFi password? Do you want to contribute to an open source library? You can do it.
These are the guidelines for open work day:
- You have to do something.
- You have to define what that something is. You have to document what you want to do on a confluence doc.
- You have to tell the team what you have defined and commit to it.
- You have to show the team at the end of the day what you did.
Outside of those guidelines, you can do anything you want! Use this time to learn and grow, and hopefully from what you learn, you can pass that knowledge on to the rest of the team. As JFK said, rising tides lift all boats. Please come in early on this day (we will get started at 9am sharp), or be digitally available if you are a remote worker, so we can kick off the day together and get a full day of open work in.