This Intuit executive explains why all its employees have '10% unstructured time'

Photo: The Office/ IMDb.

Ideas can often be left buried when we’re dealing with the demands of a 9-6 workplace.

But software company Intuit, which produces accounting and financial software for businesses such as QuickBooks, has an interesting way of letting its employees pursue new ideas on the side.

It give all it employees “10% unstructured time” to work on something they’re passionate about.

“We provide folks with 10% unstructured time and they can use that time however they see fit. They’ll often work on their own ideas or team ideas. That is strictly enforced and it is up to the team to do that,” says Brad Paterson, the VP and managing director of Intuit Asia-Pacific.

“Across the entire business, it is expected of your role whether you’re in finance, product engineering or sales.

“If you’re an engineer, you’re probably going off coding a new idea that you’ve been working on… I’ve seen folks in finance actually working on HR opportunities to improve HR processes. You’ll often find people will get together in small teams to go off and work on ideas.”

Since it was introduced as an integral part of the company’s innovation culture in 2008, this unstructured time has seen the creation of ideas such as SnapTax, GoPayment, and ViewMyPaycheck.

The time however, is completely up to the individual and can be worked around their schedule, whether it be daily or weekly.

“They can carve out 10% of their time once a month, they can carve it out in a quarter, they can do it daily if they wish, it’s up to the individual,” Paterson said.

Paterson said “unstructured time” is managed by both the organisation and the individual.

“Employees are encouraged to track, we don’t force people to do that. We empower them to use their time how they choose but we encourage people to log it so we can see whether people are actually using it.”

But the ideas that are born out of this unstructured time aren’t just left to dwindle.

“They’ll share them on innovations boards and folks will go up and work on those ideas that they see and they’ll spend half a day or a day and a half of a month working on those.”

You can check out the “unstructured time” in action below:

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