“It’s Friday, You Know What That Means!”: Hack Off

March 27, 2009

We’ve got a saying around the office, and it goes something like this: “It’s Friday, you know what that means…it’s Hack Off time again!”

What’s a hack off you ask? In a nutshell it’s a day of unstructured time for our developers where they can work on anything they like. It’s kind of like Google’s fabled 20% time dedicated to side projects, except that at FreshBooks we try to do this once every 2 weeks so it’s about 10% of your time. Still, not too shabby.

The way it works is our developers work throughout the day on whatever they like. Sometimes it’s improvements to the product – things nagging customers but that we just haven’t gotten to, sometimes it things nagging the developers that they just want to fix and no one else will see, and other times it’s a proof of concept of some new technology. The only guiding rule about what to work on is you should be able to finish it in a day.

Whatever they are working on throughout the day, at 4:30 they stop – that’s beer o’clock here at FreshBooks HQ (something we practice every Friday). At that point the entire company – refreshments in hand – moves through the office from screen to screen and gets demos from each developer on the stuff they’ve created. Once all the demos are done, there is a voting process – usually done by loudest cheers – to decide the “winner”. Beyond peer recognition, we usually bestow movie tickets or Raptors tickets upon the fan favourite.

I love Hack Off days, in fact as a founder and product kind of guy, Hack Offs and release days are probably my favourite days at the office. Having a chance to see the creativity of our dev team is a very special treat. Can’t wait for beer o’clock!

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.