A topic that has intrigued me, lately, is the freedom that some companies are giving to their employees – ‘allowing’ them to explore some topics that interest them (and yet, still benefit the company) and not just menial product-upgrades.
Probably the most widely known instance of this freedom is Google’s 20% Time. Google allows their engineers to explore topics that interest them and yet are still related to the overall goals of Google. Products like Orkut, Google Movies, and other handy add-ons have come out of this.
The next case that I became aware of was the Atlassian Fedex Day. Even though it has nothing to do with Fedex directly, they’re goal was to give the engineers a day to develop some new products, using new technologies, and ship them on the same day.
Finally, and probably my most favorite, the JotSpot Hackathon. JotSpot provided their engineers with pizza, drinks, and candy throughout the day, in turn creating handy add-ons which they felt would be of use. A lot of neat Ajaxy things came out of this which will greatly benefit the end-user.
It definitely seems that these freedoms (especially the all day hackathons) bring the employees together and allows them to have some fun with their otherwise drab working environment. This is something that I’m going to keep in mind as I start getting my company off the ground.