Going beyond soliciting donations and building awareness — both of which are good things, mind you — the staff at Google is using their “20 per cent time” to solve problems facing Japan in the wake of the March 11th earthquake.
Staff members at Google are allowed to use 20 per cent of their work day to devise pet projects and pursue independent interests outside of company goals. Lately, the focus of 20 per cent time has fallen to Japan, especially in Google’s Japanese office, understandably.
"A lot of 20-percent time is being spent on Japan," Google spokesman Jamie Yood told AFP on Thursday.
"There is definitely a group of people in our Tokyo office spending a lot more than 20 percent of their time on this, and that is supported by Google," he said.
Google has established a multi-lingual Crisis Response Page with links to resources such as emergency hotlines, relief organizations, maps, and a service for finding loved ones.
"Like the rest of the world, we’ve been transfixed by the images and news coming out of the northeastern part of Japan over the past six days," Google product manager Nobu Makida said in a blog post on Thursday.
"Googlers in Japan and elsewhere around the world have been working around the clock to try and help improve the flow of information."
Here’s hoping that Google employees’ 20 per cent time can come up with something to help alleviate the suffering our friends in the Land of the Rising Sun are experiencing. 20 per cent time has led to some pretty great things before — Gmail, Google News, and positive changes within Google as a corporation and work environment to name a few.
For an interesting read about what 20 per cent time means to Google employees, check out this 2007 article from The New York Times.