How effective is Google's '20 percent time'?

HR software solutions can help businesses keep their employees informed on any payroll or working requirement changes.

HR software solutions can help businesses keep their employees informed on any payroll or working requirement changes.

Different companies are going to have their own requirements for hours that employees must work and other HR standards they must adhere to. With comprehensive human resources software solutions, businesses can ensure that all of these details are available in an organized format that employees at all levels have access to. That way, should any questions arise, HR managers have a place to which they can direct staff members.

Since it went public in 2004, Google has offered employees what it calls "20 percent time." Workers have the option to devote up to one day per week on personal projects that might fall outside of their standard duties. Innovations such as Gmail and Google Talk have emerged from this "20 percent time."

There have been conflicting reports recently around whether Google has eliminated this option for employees. An earlier Quartz article claimed that it was being filtered out, but message boards began to fill up with allegedly current employees stating the opposite.

Michael Schrage wrote a Harvard Business Review contribution piece on the subject, and the MIT research fellow explained that different companies will likely find that varied approaches to encouraging productivity will work for their own organization. For example, Apple has never encouraged or adopted something like "20 percent time," and has instead opted for a "top down alignment of talent [rather] than facilitation of bottom-up empowerment." And yet, that has worked for Apple. 

"But employing talent is one thing," Schrage wrote. "Keeping it productively innovative and innovatively productive is another. What happens to self-image and individual expectations as enterprise definitions of 'productively innovative' and 'innovatively productive' change?"

When businesses encounter change, HR systems are a good place to keep updates. That way, employees of all levels can remain informed.