10% Time: How Meister Encourages Personal Growth and Turbocharges Innovation

We grow, continually. This core Meister value helps our team members to develop, learn and fulfill their potential. It’s a value we live by, too: when you join Meister, you’ll have the opportunity to spend 10 percent of your working week focusing on personal and professional development. This can include developing professional skills, brainstorming new ideas or researching interesting topics that bring everyone forward. In this post, we’ll explain how 10% time at Meister works and how it helps make our company a great place to work.

10% Time: How Meister Encourages Personal Growth and Turbocharges Innovation

As Head of People and Culture at Meister, I work every day to try and make Meister the best it can be for our rapidly growing team. A healthy, supportive work environment has many benefits: not only does it mean that you’ll be happy and motivated to come to work each day, it also helps us attract high-quality new team members to join us and achieve better results. Whether you’re a potential applicant (in which case, take a look at our current open positions), or just interested to see the way we work, this post is for you.

What Is 10% Time?

You can spend a percentage of your working time on personal development and on anything that will benefit Meister in the long term. It can really be anything.

Michael Hollauf, co-founder and CEO

You can’t always give a hundred and ten percent. That’s why Lobsters, as we call ourselves here at Meister, have the freedom to devote 10 percent of the working week to improving personal skills, looking into remarkable new technologies and thinking about interesting new ideas. In a typical 38.5 hour working week, this means you’ll have almost 4 hours available to pursue these activities. 

What originally started as “Hacky Friday” – the one day a week that developers and engineers would get to work on pet projects – soon evolved into an initiative that was rolled out to the entire company in early 2020. Fast-forward to today, it has become a widespread practice across every team in the company, helping us stay happy, motivated and creative. You too can benefit from 10% time: during your Meister onboarding, you’ll get plenty of inspiration about how it can best be spent. 

Meister is hiring! Head on over to our careers page to find your dream job.

What Does 10% Time Mean at Meister?

The concept of devoting a percentage of work time to learning and R&D was famously pioneered by Google with their 20% time. There, the policy has led to nearly half of all new product launches, including Gmail, Google News and Adsense. However, just because something is effective, doesn’t mean that it’s healthy: Google engineers reportedly call the policy “120-percent time”  because it’s expected in addition to your full workload, simply adding to work stress. 

Dedication to your work is a virtue, but it’s not helpful if it leads to burnout. We prefer a more measured approach, intended to spark your passion rather than cause fatigue. In our experience, 10% time turbocharges innovation in the rest of your day job – generating ideas and opportunities that benefit your work during the other 90%. Sometimes creativity and innovation require a different environment. Here at Meister, 10% time is that different environment.

Learn more about life at Meister from someone who knows.

The Benefits of 10% Time

Here at Meister, you’re among your kind of people. When you join our team, you’ll meet colleagues who share the same progressive mindset as you and who are passionate about learning, which in turn will help you grow, continually. Our 10% time initiative is successful for a reason: by ring-fencing innovation time, you are given the freedom to create. 

Don’t just take our word for it. When we asked our employees what they thought the key benefits of 10% time were, they responded with the following:

  • Improved personal and team development through learning new skills.
  • Greater innovation for the company as a whole through outside-of-the-box work.
  • Inter-team collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas.
  • Better self-management skills through a need for smart prioritization.
  • Empowerment for individuals and increased trust.

How Our Teams Use Their 10% Time

There are no rules, anything is fair game and cross-team collaboration is encouraged.

Laura Bârlădeanu, Meister

How you make the most of your 10% time is entirely up to you: little by little or all in one go, alone or with your team. When Head of Engineering, Laura Bârlădeanu, realized that her team wasn’t making the best use of the initiative, she decided to bring everyone together during quarterly “innovation weeks”. These proved to be an ideal opportunity to look into other programming languages, explore ideas for new features or for team members to focus on their own passions and personal development.

Laura says, “Leading up to innovation week we brainstorm ideas on a shared mind map. That way, we can see which projects stand out and we can jump in on whichever ones we like. There are no rules, anything is fair game and cross-team collaboration is encouraged. We always wrap up with demos and presentations and pick out the best ideas.”

Head of Engineering Laura Bârlădeanu

During one innovation week, Backend Developer Chloé Fons and Technical and Backend Lead Mladen Jokanovic prototyped the use of a new technology to manage communication between the tools in the Meister Suite. In another, Billie Rosalie Postlmayr, Machine Learning Developer, created a prototype for the automatic generation of tasks with GPT-3, an autoregressive language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text. 

Not Just for Techies

10% time has been a lifesaver. When I joined Meister, I relocated to Vienna without knowing a word of German, but now I feel I can make a bigger contribution.

Miša Hennin, Meister

Although 10% time may have its roots in technical innovation and was once the preserve of developers and engineers, today it’s an established initiative across the entire company and everyone is encouraged to take part.

You can use your 10% time to:

  • Take Udemy or Reforge online courses: maybe you want to learn more about agile project management or Python for data science. Choose any class, and Meister will support you.
  • Attend Babbel language classes: Lobsters love Babbel courses because they get you using your skills in real life and speaking naturally. Meister will sponsor your German or English classes.
  • Take MeisterAcademy e-learning courses to improve your knowledge of the tools in the Meister Suite, and of all things Meister.

Start Writing Your Own Meister Story

The ability to innovate is key to future success. Here at Meister, innovation is about introducing positive changes to the Meister Suite, to the team, and to the individuals within it. Your personal growth is important, and having the autonomy to spend 10 percent of your time exploring new technologies, finding new ways of working and improving your own skills is one of the best ways to do this.

If you’re passionate about your work, keen to develop both professionally and personally, and want to write your own chapter of the Meister story, then check out some of the exciting positions that are open right now.