Should you give team members more free time?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

Though it no longer offers this schedule, Google was once famous for giving its employees the option to take what was called "20 percent time." The idea was that each employee would reserve one day each week to work on personal side projects that had nothing to do with their main roles at the company.

For years, this proved to be a successful strategy. Popular Google services like Gmail were created by employees working on 20 percent time. Even though the company has shifted away from the schedule, others have sought to emulate it.

The question that project managers must answer is whether giving employees free, unstructured time is a smart move. On one hand, businesses can be built on innovations that are born during these hours. On the other hand, companies like Google have found that too little structure can ultimately hurt productivity.

A recent article on Inc.com argues in favor of letting employees do what they want some of the time. 

Everyone has different interests and passions—and managers should respect those that their employees pursue. They can only step back and create an environment in which team members are willing to experiment with new ideas and, ultimately, add value to the company and its products and services.

Good project managers know how to keep a light hand on the reins while encouraging innovation. New Leaf's program "Complex Problems, Difficult Decisions & Innovative Ideas" offers exciting ways for teams to get better at cooperative problem-solving, decision-making and creative idea-generation. New Leaf also lets you learn while you earn affordable PDU credits for PMP recertification with our online QPM games and white papers.

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