For the first time in a decade, Netflix subscriptions are down. We can’t help but assume that people are bored of sitting on their coziest love seat and binging series after series every day. We did enough of that during lockdown. Now, more than ever, people are looking for ways to enhance their lives and find better things to do with their time.
Enter the passion project.
During the pandemic, people started to get creative about how they were using their space, energy, and money. They were making banana bread, doing at-home workouts, learning to crochet, and even starting new businesses.
Now passion projects are no longer just a meaningful distraction—they’re a way of life.
Why passion projects are more important than ever
I’m in the middle of a big life change.
Ever since I saw the 70s TV show, The Good Life in my teens, I’ve wanted to relocate to a small farm and become as self-sustaining as possible. Now I am finally pursuing that dream. It’s a big change from living in the city, but while working with Hotjar, I know I’ll have support every step of the way.
You don’t just buy a farm, and all of a sudden, you’re a farmer! There’s a lot to prepare for, and I’m able to use my personal development budget to help me learn relevant skills. I’ve used my holiday budget to get to know the area we’re thinking of moving to, and flexible working hours gives me the flexibility I need to make this dream a reality.
I’m definitely not alone in wanting to shake things up! There’s this itch that a lot of us can’t scratch through our day-to-day work. I am very grateful that I am able to do work I find meaningful and get a lot of fulfillment from, but there’s still this little nagging voice telling me that I’m doing it for someone else.
Without sounding cliché, we only get one shot at life, and the pandemic has opened many eyes to this fact. We realize we don’t have as much control over our lives as we thought we did. Now we’re trying to take back some of that control by exploring new things and venturing beyond our perceived limitations. This has all contributed to the ‘Great Reshuffle.’
If you love your job and the company you work for, a passion project can enhance productivity through learning new skills and doing something different.
For those who are less enamored with their day-to-day work, passion projects are a way to create meaning and provide fulfillment—and this is the keyword here. It’s about being able to explore different sides of yourself, sides that your typical 9-5 may notallow you to fully explore.
How passion projects are fueling the Hotjar team
There are two key Hotjar events that offer us a peek at what the team is up to outside of work:
Hotjar’s Got Talent
The former is a fun way for people to share their non-work-related talents, while the latter is a more formal event that lets team members give a presentation or talk on a subject they’re particularly passionate about.
We encourage everyone to get involved if they want to! These passion project events let us learn new things and celebrate the team. They also help create connections between people who have similar interests. For example, for one of our Hotjar’s Got Talent events, three team members collaborated remotely during the pandemic to produce a song. But music is only one side project. Here are some more ways our team members expand their horizons outside of work.
Bee appreciates our flexible hours, giving her the time to ride her horses in the African bush alongside rhinos, elephants, and zebras.
Kacper and Filip host a YouTube channel that combines starting your career in tech and programming for beginners in Polish.
Chelsea is part of a Spanish-speaking gardening club—check out the community garden below.
Nicole has taken up pottery with her personal development budget.
The point is that we challenge ourselves to grow, and that’s a big part of Hotjar’s spirit.
Passion projects can be hobbies, but there are also a number of people who have started their own businesses while working at Hotjar. In our manual, it specifically says we should talk to the leadership about our new businesses. We want to make sure people are keeping a healthy balance, but also we want to know how else we can support the team in making their own business or project a success. One of our executive team members has just left us to start their own business. While it’s sad to see them go, it’s empowering for the rest of the team to see them put what they’ve learned at Hotjar into action as they continue on their path.
How Hotjar’s perks support team members
Yes, Hotjar is a workplace, but we want to support our team to the best of our ability—namely giving people flexibility and supporting their whole lives, not just their work life.
Because of this, we have some great perks.
1. Personal development budget
Hotjar team members each get up to €1,000 per year, pro-rata, to spend on personal development.
This doesn’t necessarily mean development for work. It can be used to buy equipment for a passion you have outside of work or for resources to help you learn a new hobby.
As well, team members spend their budget on things like books, newspapers, magazine subscriptions, software, and hardware. Some people have used it for buying Raspberry Pis, while others have used it to buy Adobe Photoshop subscriptions so they can edit photos in their spare time.
Team members can also use this budget for physical equipment that supports their personal development, where they can spend up to €200 per item.
2. Well-being budget
Our well-being budget allows team members to pay for activities and services that support physical and mental health, such as fitness classes, gym memberships, massages, therapy, admission to sports events, or meditation retreats, just to name a few.
This can be used creatively in conjunction with the personal development budget to support and sponsor an entirely new hobby or a passion project. For example, someone might use their personal development budget to buy the equipment for a new project, some audiobooks, or a magazine subscription and then use their well-being budget to pay for classes.
Providing opportunities for greater fulfillment
We’re big believers that the happier and more fulfilled you are outside of work, the better you’ll feel when you’re at work. Our perks and personal budgets are available for people to invest in themselves and start living the lives they want to.
But there’s no pushing. No one has to use their perks. They’re there if they want them.
Supporting and encouraging your team members to pursue their hobbies and passion projects outside the workplace is good for both their personal and professional fulfillment.
This increased sense of purpose translates into increased feeling of belonging, which helps improve engagement levels and, more importantly, in our lives.
Work time is more than just laptop time
Recently a group of us in engineering discussed how different people think about and define 'work', and how connected (or disconnected) this is to sitting at a desk.
We found that while some colleagues felt comfortable 'working' away from their desks, others did not—and some folks even felt guilty if they didn’t get eight hours in at their desks.
Here we share some learnings, advice, and quotes to help others feel more comfortable working away from their desks.
Mental health at work: a practical guide to well-being
We’ve opened up about workplace mental health. From psychological safety and burnout to mental rest days and perks aimed at your well-being. No new-age woo-woo here. Just practical tips and useful insights from our team that you and your team can try right away.
How to be unflappable at work
Big workloads aren't the only stressor in the workplace. Learn how Hotjar creates an unflappable work environment that addresses the most common stresses.