Apple introduces ‘Blue Sky’ program to give select employees time for personal projects

Tim Cook tells Apple's story so far – in numbersApple appears to have taken a leaf out of Google’s How To Make Employees Happy handbook with the introduction of a scheme similar to the Web giant’s ‘20 percent projects’ initiative, allowing select employees to spend a number of working hours developing their own projects.

According to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday, the initiative is dubbed ‘Blue Sky’ and allows some workers – though not all – a couple of weeks to turn their attention to a personal project outside of their regular work. It’s the latest in a series of changes at the Cupertino company brought about by CEO Tim Cook since taking over from Steve Jobs in August last year.

Google employees have long been able to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects, giving everyone a chance to exercise their creative muscles and perhaps come up with the next big thing – products such as Gmail and Google News were born out of the 20 percent program – and free workers up from their regular routine.

Whereas all of those working at Google are entitled to spend 20 percent of their time on personal projects, Apple’s Blue Sky initiative, which was introduced earlier this year, is apparently more limited in terms of who can make use of it.

The WSJ says that following the recent management shake-up at Apple, the current status of the Blue Sky program isn’t entirely clear. Scott Forstall, for example, was reportedly involved in Blue Sky, but the software head lost his job in the restructuring drive.

The opportunity for employees at Apple to spend some of their working hours on their own thing is something you couldn’t quite imagine happening under Steve Jobs’ strict regime. Tim Cook is said to be a more laid back, approachable character, and this appears to be reflected in changes at Apple in the employer-employee company structure as he strives to put his personal stamp on the tech giant.