There are good ideas and great ideas. And some of them are that great, that they ought to be realized twice. The Freebie Friday is one of the latter and it means, that on fridays at noon, we stop working on client projects and everyone in our team may and should dedicate themselves to their own interests and topics. The idea evolved a few years ago out of the teams desire to gain knowledge about new technologies and trends, to realize one’s own projects and establish profound expertise.
Sounds like a great plan to begin with. But in an everyday situation its limits were reached quite soon. Tight deadlines, schedules and product launches shape the daily business in an agency. Allowing creativity full bent outside of client projects becomes a feat of strength, gaining knowledge in new fields of expertise a real challenge that often falls by the wayside. Back the the team was too small and the number of projects too large in order for the Freebie Friday to become a fixed point in the working week. So unfortunately, it ended before it even started and the idea was put to the shelf, gathering dust for almost half a decade.
Making room for personal development clearly is the responsibility of the management. Middle-term the frustration rate increases at the cost of motivation and innovative thoughts. What is left is a team that simply works through day-to-day operations. That’s not enough for us.
In the scope of our yearly strategic meeting in January we instituted many changes in our agency. So now, once more we introduce the Freebie Friday, for we believe that innovation can only evolve from an open space. The desire for personal development and team building, the culture of trial, error, assessment and learnings has to be accepted by each and every team member. We evaluated exactly where we want to go, what needs to change in order to get there and above all, how and what everyone in the team can contribute to that goal.
Some might ask for the economic risks of such an institution as the Freebie Friday. Fortunately, we are able to say that the level of individual responsibility is very high and everyone has a good understanding of priorities, a sensitivity for resource planning and a good portion of curiosity.
So the message was clear: Less working on external projects, more time to follow your own interests and capabilities, of which the whole team and agency will profit at the end of the day. There needs to be space for ideas in order to achieve change and progress. Taking new perspectives, supporting new approaches, implementing new technologies as well as extending existing knowledge is the main aim. In reality, this means a whole lot of working hours that can’t be offset, trust in the autonomy of the staff as well as a trial-and-error mentality. The only condition is, that the gained knowledge is transferred in internal and external workshops and – if possible – is integrated in projects and concepts to come. Whether it’s Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Growth Hacking, Artificial Intelligence or the development of Drupal modules for certain use cases. The list of ideas is long and we will share the first results of our work soon.