What sort of future do we want to make for ourselves?
Investment time is all about looking after our future. This is really important to Yoomee, so we can all enjoy working here and be a company that continues to be competitive and interesting to work for. Investment time is time for investing in ourselves and our company goals and vision.
Primarily, this means doing something that interests us like learning a new skill, contributing to open source, participating in community events, or reading an educational book. The goal is to encourage individuals to improve and share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the team.
When and who?
As a company, we are aiming for each employee to spend 20% of their productive working time on investment time. For a full-time employee this equates to 40 days a year, to run from 1 October to 30 September.
We are still trying to figure out how to schedule this time and there are a number of options we are currently looking at:
- We work four days for clients on consulting and one day on "investment time." We could spend Monday through Thursday on client work and Friday on investment. If someone is away on holiday during the week, or if a team member is sick or unexpectedly absent from client work, we'll use Friday as an extra client day to avoid slipping behind schedule, or
- Every six weeks we schedule in a company-wide investment week, and spend the entire week working on investment time.
When taking time off during client work, we discuss how it will impact the schedule with other team members.
Why should we do it?
Investment time is a significant investment and could represent up to £20K per employee in lost client income each year. So why are we even doing it?
There are many reasons why investment time is a good idea:
- It gives you time to address gaps in your skill set so you can do your job better, and address learning needs identified in your appraisal.
- As an employee, it increases your value to the business.
- You get to improve your professional profile, building credibility and visibility for yourself and for the business.
- If you want to turn your training project into a viable business, we're all for it.
- Having investment time makes other people want to work here, as it demonstrates our commitment to our employees.
- It keeps our company competitive and ensures we don't get left behind with new technology, approaches or thinking.
- It's a break from client work and an opportunity to think differently about problems.
- It gives us space to work on wider company needs, which we would otherwise find hard to justify.
- It reminds us of the importance of looking after the future.
- It gives us a chance to work with other members of the team that we may not get to when working on client projects.
What are investment activities?
Investment time is about doing things better and doing better things. Yoomee isn't just about writing software and building digital platforms. There are many other activities and services we can offer to be better at being Yoomee. To make the best use of the time, and the investment that the company is making, investment activities must fall into at least one of the following areas:
This area is all about exploring technology deeper. For example, this might mean looking at new frameworks, new development and design tools, or just exploring new technologies (eg. blockchain) This can also involve improving how we use our current tools and technologies.
This area is about exploring new services and adopting new ways of working such as content strategy, techniques for running workshops, researching, measuring and understanding end users. This area of work could result in completely new services to offer to clients. This could also be about changing the way we approach current work, our current processes and working environment.
This area is about reaching out to new networks and communities – connecting with other people/organisations relevant to the company goals, telling stories, showing how we work, getting feedback, facilitating conversations and making new friends.
What should the outputs be?
Investment time is a significant investment and so there needs to be wider tangible benefits for everyone involved. So every investment activity should result in something tangible from which we can all benefit – even if that is just sharing the story of the experience and lessons learned for activities that cannot be completed fully.
As a minimum, all investment time must result in at least one of the following outputs:
- Personal improvement in an area relevant to our work.
- Lessons learned shared through documentation, presentations and regular show and tell sessions.
- Increased awareness of Yoomee through online promotion of the activity (eg. blog write up, microsite and social media).
- Developing new software or other new non-technical areas of work and new services to offer clients.
- Expanding our network and connecting with relevant communities.
UPDATE 11 MARCH 2016
Since writing this post, here are some of the things we've done at Yoomee during investment time:
- Sheffield Tech for Good – a new meet up for people interested in using digital for good.
- Refugee Hackathon – a local response to the Eurpoean refugee crisis.
- Why ask about gender? – blog posts about gender issues.
- Sheffield Digital – a new trade association for digital professionals in Sheffield.
- Printed by Us - skills and experience for homeless and vulnerable people