Google has a famous and long-standing programme called Innovation Time Off where employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time on personal projects.
The idea is that employees would get a shot of extra inspiration that they could then take back to their Google projects. It would also make them more engaged and happier employees. And happy, engaged employees are more productive the theory goes.
This extra employee engagement has come off in spades but another amazing byproduct has been the amount of innovation this has meant for Google itself; Gmail, Google Earth, and Gmail Labs were all born of 20% time.
But Google was not the first company to introduce this innovation innovation. 3M started its 15% time way back in 1948 and the company claims that many of its most famous patents including Post it Notes were a result.
HP is another company that has introduced personal time off in the hope of retaining more engaged employees and maybe igniting some powerful innovations to boot.
If your business could use happier, more engaged, more productive employees who just happen to create products and services that make your business famous then maybe time off is for you (or for them).