Lately there have been a lot of headlines about what motivates us in the workplace. In this talk, Dan Pink boils it down to two things:

  1. You make enough money so that you’re not worried about money
  2. You have the autonomy to direct your own work and make an impact

Dan then gives an example of an amazing place to work where one day a quarter the employees get to work on whatever they want. The only condition is that they have to present their work at an informal, fun type of gathering. This company, the Australian based Atlassian, has reaped a lot of benefits from this approach, including bug fixes and new features that they wouldn’t have otherwise had the time to build.

Based on this data, I’d say Atlassian does sound like a good place to work.

At Inventables, we don’t have one day a quarter to work on whatever we want. We have one day every week. Instead of 4 days a year, we have 50 days a year. 50 days to work on whatever you want. And instead of having to present your work at a meeting, you don’t have to present your work at all. Unless you want to. And that presentation can take any form you want. Maybe you want to have an informal, fun type of gathering. Maybe you just want to send out a link.

Because we build software using an agile approach, we’ve dubbed our one day a week of free exploration “Free point Friday.” And we, too, have reaped a lot of benefits from our approach. Like Atlassian, we’ve fixed some bugs. We’ve built some features. We’ve redesigned the look and feel of our website. We’ve built entirely new applications just for fun. We’ve mined data looking for patterns, caught up on reading, and just played around with new technologies.

As the leader of our technical team, I believe our “Free point Friday” approach is the best way to run our business because if someone has an idea for how to improve things, they don’t have to sell it. They don’t have to set it aside for later. They can just do it, and they’re free to fail. The failure will not be analyzed or filed away and brought up later.

Our business is about discovery and innovation. We believe anything’s possible, and we believe that if you just let people explore, they’ll prove it to you.

—Written by Jeff