5% Rule? Make that 20.

Although we’ve always done a lot of side-projects, it wasn’t really until The Work Cycle that we realised how much fun it is to work on your own projects during office hours. That, and what it brings you in terms of inspiration, contacts, recognition, knowledge, opportunities and energy. There’s something really exhilarating about creating work that people want to share and be part of. It’s even more exhilarating creating work to your own brief!


It was during the development of The Work Cycle that I learned about the 5% rule at a conference. The 5% rule refers to applying 5% of your time or your budget to activities that are not directly related to client work. Or when it’s on the client’s time or budget, applying an extra 5% to their brief. Most of the time that relates to R&D activity and ultimately benefits the company and/or its clients. It’s about having the resources to explore other options and generate and execute ideas without the pressure of deadlines in a culture that encourages failure: understanding why something doesn’t work, and then applying that learning to making things better. You do this again and again, it’s a culture of execution.

Looking back on the side projects we’ve done, mainly The Work Cycle and Pixillion Sessions, 5% was roughly the time we spent on it.


In the Autumn of 2012 I realised 5% was not enough. We had trouble keeping momentum up with The Work Cycle and literally no time to do something new as well. I wasn’t content with missing out on the chance to do something which could possibly have a similar, or bigger, impact on our agency, and have the opportunity to enhance people’s lives, create jobs or contribute further to the economy as well. Doing something genuinely worthwhile takes a lot of commitment and needs the right environment to blossom. We also needed a plan that would eventually make this self-sustainable, or even better, create a new business that would fulfil everything that we look for in a job, and takes care of us financially as well.

So 5% becomes 20%. Every Friday is ours. We had “Cheeky Friday” (thanks Messi at Papadeli) going for a few years already, but in addition to eating fantastic cakes, we are also going to keep these days free from client work and learn, have fun, experiment, develop, design - just produce stuff and get it out there. And not dancing to anyone’s tune other than our own. We think our clients will only benefit from this too as we’ll be able to pour all that R&D time into their future projects!

And it’s a perfect time for it. Technology is relatively low cost; the web, social media and app stores make global distribution easier than ever, so we can invest more in an idea or its execution. Whether a product is digital, physical or intellectual, the barriers to enter a new market are few. We’ve carefully built a great network of associates that make collaboration and pooling expertise a viable option as well.

So, here we go, starting the 1st of February, we’re taking back our Fridays. Let us know what you think about that.

Starting the 1st of February, we’re taking back our Fridays.


Posted by — Remco Merbis

January, 2013