Let my people surf

I’m back from my 4-day trip to India where I spoke at the World HRD Congress in Mumbai (and did a really, REALLY good job). I’ll be blogging about it soon.

Meanwhile, My friend Lars Pind pointed me to this video of Yvon Chouinard talking about how he founded Patagonia and some of the unusual policies they have, including setting all employees free to surf whenever they want:

I’ve set the video above to start at my favorite place, but if you can, take an hour and watch the whole thing.

Here’s how Yvon summed it up in a previous interview:

I’m a businessman, but I’m still going to do things on my own terms. I’m going to break a lot of rules, and we’re going to blur the distinction between work and play.

So we have a policy here – it’s called “Let My People Go Surfing.” A policy which is, when the surf comes up, anybody can just go surfing. Any time of the day, you just take off and go surfing…

That attitude changes your whole life. If your life is set up so that you can drop anything when the surf comes up, it changes the whole way you do your life. And it has changed this whole company here.

Your take

Are you free to plan your own time where you work? Or are you locked into working whenever it suits the workplace – not you? What would it mean to you, if you were completely free to plan your own time?

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4 thoughts on “Let my people surf”

  1. “The Now Habit” provides an interesting framework. Instead of planning your work time, first plan your free time, your entertainments and time for rest. There are many reasons for this (I won’t list them, you can read the book), but one interesting phenomena is that when you plan for your free time, and if for example you were planning to go out with friends, but they are unable, you naturally spend this ‘free’ time, that was planned for entertainment, for work.

  2. At my last regular office job we could take our two 10 minute breaks and 30-60 minute lunch whenever we wanted to as long as we didn’t save them until the end of the day and then use them as an excuse to leave early. It was very helpful since we could use these breaks as “timeouts” when we needed some stress relief. We were also given 60 minutes per week of internet surfing time that we could use for browsing non-work related websites like blogs and shopping. It wasn’t complete freedom, but at least it was a recognition that we could still get our work done even if we took time out for “surfing”.

    Daisy McCarty

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