Here at Timesuck, we're all about giving you stuff to waste your time on when you should be doing something productive. Reluctantly, though, we admit there is a place for productivity, and several progressive Indianapolis companies are devoting time and space to focus on being innovative and doing more in less time.
This coming Monday, SmallBox Web Design on the north side of Indianapolis is devoting its second week in a year to forgoing client work in order to focus on internal projects like developing new software and refining marketing plans. CEO Jeb Banner plans to have a "Factory Week" every six months. "I know that Factory Week has transformed our company," he says. "We hope that other companies join us in the future." (Editor's note: Years ago, Banner worked as a subcontractor for NUVO.)
Others are joining SmallBox, in spirit at least. Business-blogging company Compendium had its first "Innovation Day" in April last year, which featured "a compressed timeline to help (employees) realize everything that can be accomplished if you throw out the constraints that keep most people from achieving great things." Sounds like a reasonable definition of productivity to us.
Time isn't the only thing local creatives and entrepreneurs are focusing on. Sharing workspace and professional resources with other business-minded people in becoming popular, too. Yelp and Big Car Service Center have been holding "Coworking Thursdays" for several months. Yelp Community Manager Jon Tower Akerman says the free coworking space fosters productivity by "giving everyone the opportunity to leap immediately from idea to action, as we're together - Post-it notes not required."
And The Speak Easy is a new membership-based coworking space for people involved with startups to "work, play and collaborate." Started by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Kristian Andersen of design firm KA+A, Banner and others*, The Speak Easy aims to help high-growth startups in Central Indiana in an environment featuring "blazing-fast" Wi-Fi, video games and beer on tap.
But couldn't spending all this time around creative people in creative spaces be counterproductive? Not according to Andersen. "If you're rockin' on an idea and you're not sure if it's the right monetization strategy or if you're following best practices - or whatever issue you're facing - if there's a guy across the room who's a world-class designer or angel investor who can help you and make things easier, that's productivity, right?"
Though coworking spaces and time devoted to innovation aren't mainstream in Indy yet, the ideas are becoming more popular: According to Andersen, hundreds have already applied for the $250 Speak Easy membership ahead of next Wednesday's launch, and some people even tried to hand-deliver checks to him in order to join.
Does your company give you time to focus on cool new projects, or have you worked in coworking spaces? What inspires you to be productive? Let us know in the comments.
If reading about other people's productivity has made you feel productive enough for the next few minutes, check out Hardly Working's "Start-up Guys" to get a dose of some people you probably won't find at any of the aforementioned:
*Other founders of The Speak Easy include Eric Tobias (iGoDigital), Dave Castor, Jeb Banner (SmallBox), Andy Clark (ExactTarget), Chris Baggott (Compendium), Mark Hill and Jim Jay (TechPoint).