We work a sustainable pace. We work four days for clients on consulting and one day on "investment time." We typically spend Monday-Thursday on client work and Friday on investment.
When taking time off during client work, we discuss how it will impact the schedule with other team members.
Sending off-hours communication may create an unintended sense of urgency with the recipients of the message, so we try to avoid creating that urgency when possible.
Unless actually urgent, we may ignore off-hours messages that we receive and handle them once we're back at work.
We make our money on consulting projects. Those projects start with sales and go through a normal flow of designing, developing, shipping, monitoring, and iterating. We want to do such a good job for our clients that they will want to poach us, and be such a great place to work that we can be confident our teammates won't leave.
Investment time comes from our value of continuous improvement. It is time for investment in ourselves, our company, and our community.
As consultants, if we were to spend all five days of the week working with clients we wouldn't have time for continuous improvement. For those who are not in a consulting role at thoughtbot, a Friday investment day may not work for their schedule. They work with their manager to identify how they will best incorporate continuous improvement into their schedule.
Primarily this means doing something that interests us like learning a new programming language, or reading an educational book.
The goal is to encourage individuals to improve and share their knowledge with the rest of the team.
We want everyone at thoughtbot to actively participate in the operations and improvement of the company.
This means things like contributing to the Handbook and Playbook, working on company experiments, interviewing potential new teammates, contributing to our Diversity and Inclusion Council, or improving your office space.
We benefit from both our online and offline communities. We want to give back and be an active member of the communities we belong to.
This often involves contributing to open source, organizing and attending community events, and volunteering at local charities.
We organize our investment work on the "Investment Time" Trello board.
Ideas for investment time:
- Contribute to open source software.
- Write a blog post. Manage it on the "Editorial Calendar" Trello board.
- Pick from or contribute back to dotfiles.
- Explore change to tools and process on the "Research" Trello board
- Work on conference and meetup talks and proposals.
- Volunteer as a mentor for Upcase, Metis, Galvanize, Dev Bootcamp, or RailsBridge, or another solid learning organization.
While working with us on an ongoing basis, we may give our clients a desk in our office if we have the availability. Clients are welcome in our office during normal business hours, including Fridays. We set clear expectations about how we spend our time on Fridays, and clients can choose to either participate in the investment day alongside us, do their own thing, or work outside of the office on Fridays. Anyone in the office on Fridays is invited to lunch.
There is a difference between our normal Friday investment time, and downtime between client projects.
Periods of downtime between client projects, especially extended ones, should be spent on revenue generating activities.
Here are some ideas that are more directly revenue generating:
- Work on an internal tool like Hub.
- Assist with Marketing.
- Assist with sales.
- Meet someone new or make an existing relationship stronger.
- Contribute to one of our revenue generating services.
- Form a team, run a product design sprint, and build on an idea of your own.
If you have a question about what to spend this time on ask your Director, Lindsey, or Chad in the #unbooked Slack room.
Because this extended time period will go away when you resume client work, and because we can't sustain non-revenue generating activities for long, approach this extended time between client projects with a sense of urgency. Validating ideas and shipping should be a priority. We shouldn't go weeks without results to show, and we should impose the same constraints and process as we do on client projects.
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