In honour of Love Note Day…

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This Monday we celebrated Love Note Day…we know it’s not particularly business-related, but I have to admit that even though I’m not a super romantic at heart, I do have a fondness for love notes.

My husband and I met at work and started dating almost 12 years ago exactly – October 4th (my birthday) marks our first pseudo date.  We were a workplace romance, starting up conversations while manning a booth at UBC together. He was new to our office, and I was being friendly. I couldn’t resist his beautiful blue eyes and amazing smile – oh, and he was intelligent and easy to get along with too! We had lunch together on the grassy knoll and things just kind of went from there.  

At the time, we were both very nervous about the implications of working together and dating. We were both professional and didn’t want a potential “fling” to go badly and ruin our working relationship. We proceeded with caution and didn’t let anyone at work know what was going on. Despite our attempts to keep things low key at work, or maybe because of it, our workload was beginning to intertwine and our higher-ups put us onto a project together.  This meant that we were spending more and more time together, which of course made keeping our relationship to ourselves and professional at work even more difficult.  How do you communicate with someone who you are falling in love with when you need to be seen as “just colleagues”? Well…love notes of course.  Dave and I would pass notes to each other, Dave more so than me I’ll admit. I have always had a hard time writing love notes – but I do love to receive them.  I still carry in my wallet the first note he ever wrote me. 

Despite our best efforts to be cautious and careful, we fell hopelessly in love with each other.  A few colleagues saw us out together and I’m sure the rumour mill started winding up at the office.  I remember diving behind a movie store aisle one day in an attempt to hide from a fellow work colleague when Dave and I were picking out a movie to watch.  We got caught despite my efforts of course – how do you explain your way out of that one??

It wasn’t until the company Christmas party that we finally came forward with our relationship.  Whether intentional or not, Crystal may have had one or two drinks too many and …well…the cat was out of the bag! 

Work handled our relationship fairly and professionally. They moved Dave off the project that we were working on together, and they put him onto other work on the UBC Okanagan campus, while I remained on the Point Grey campus.  They allowed us both to keep our jobs, for which we are still grateful, and we remained very professional in the workplace.  Our boss at the time told us that we would thank him later for splitting us up to work in different areas, and I have to admit he was right.  Although working together while you’re falling in love is exciting, it was not a good long-term solution for us – the separation between our work projects was great for each of us as we were able to make a name for ourselves independently from one another.   

The rest is history of course!  We were engaged within about a year from when we met, got married 6 months later, and now we have three amazing daughters.  For all the fuss over office romances, I’d say ours was a huge success…and of course I still look forward to receiving love notes from my husband. Although these days they tend to read more like this: “Can you please feed the dog?”

The 4 Apps Keeping Us Productive This Fall

As we head into Fall and move into a new fiscal year, we are shifting, tweaking, and refining our workflow and systems.

September is often synonymous with busy. For many it means back to school or back to work after summer break, and it can feel like the to-dos and tasks are endless. In order to tackle our “new year” on a high, we have made small tweaks to the applications we use to keep our team motivated, organized, and focused.

The Project House team is made up of a blend of in-office employees and sub-contractors. We offer a variety of services and do work across many different industries. Keeping track of all of our work and who’s doing what can be tough. At any given time, one of us could be working with a client in the Kootenays, taking a meeting down the road at the local coffee shop, or working poolside at a kid’s swim lesson.

In order to keep us all in sync, we use a number of applications to refine our workflow. If you ever take a peek at our desktops, iPhones, or Safari tabs you will see these in use the most often:

  • Asana
  • Dropbox
  • Freshbooks
  • Slack

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We use each of these applications for a different purpose: Asana for Project Management, Dropbox for file management, FreshBooks for Time Tracking and Invoicing, and Slack for casual communication.

 

In Asana’s own words, their mission is to ‘help humanity thrive by enabling all teams to work together effortlessly’. While it may not be pushing all of humanity forward, they definitely keep the PH team going. We use the platform to house all of our projects and related tasks. In Asana, we can assign tasks, comment on projects, and set deadlines. When we all work on different tasks, and sometimes even different pieces of tasks,Asana makes it possible to for every team member to keep each other up to date.

 

For time tracking, estimates, and invoices, we use a software called FreshBooks. FreshBooks allows us to assign team members to specific projects, easily track hours, pull together estimates, and invoice our clients – all from one simple dashboard. FreshBooks makes it easier to keep track of project hours and pull together helpful reports.

 

At Project House, we use Dropbox to store and share files and documents across our entire team and with our clients. Being able to access everything ‘in the cloud’ makes it possible to work remotely, which is the foundation of our business! Not having to worry about having a certain file uploaded is perfect if you are working on the weekend, late at night, or from another location.

 

Slack is a newer addition to our workflow but it has been useful. Slack is a team communication app that helps to reduce email and condense conversation. It is easy to use, fun, and was founded in Vancouver in 2009. At Project House, we use Slack for simple messages, internal team updates, and quick one-on-one conversations. Slack has reduced the number of two-line emails we send to each other (“Hey! Check out this link!”) and has made team updates easy. Being able to split conversations into different channels enables us to keep discussion on topic (ie. web design, marketing) and only available to those who need it.

 

Being able to work together online has made our team more connected and more collaborative. We are able to reduce our carbon footprint by keeping the majority of our work paperless, and we can be more flexible with the work we do and the hours we do it.

Do you have any favourite tools? Does your team need help moving online or to a better system and workflow? Let us know at hello@projecthouse.ca!

In celebration of Video Game Day…

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To celebrate Video Game Day, we would like to give a shout out to some of our clients who work hard to give us the chance to kill zombies, crush cities, and gather armies.  Video Game development isn’t just fun; it’s a business that requires creativity, commitment, technical wizardry, and the ability to pull together high-performing teams who can solve challenges with speed.  Working in the gaming industry will test your mettle by pitting you against tough deadlines, tougher critics, ever-changing technology, challenging production and marketing cycles, nervous investors, intense hiring competition, and a fickle market.  It will also reward you with a chance to work alongside some of the best and brightest creative minds in a variety of disciplines and crafts, and to be a part of an industry that is serious about business and innovation.

 

Local studios rise and fall, and employees often move from one to the other, then back again.  Hiring fairs and events that pop up whenever a studio suffers a layoff or closure aren’t just opportunistic; everyone gains by keeping video game professionals living and working in Vancouver, as there is always a need for experienced hands as well as a fresh perspective.  For the most part, the local gaming industry has proven to be fiercely protective of its members and also focuses a significant portion of its energy on sharing ideas and rallying around community needs.

 

Tech in BC continues to grow in a significant way:  as of 2014, it was recorded that 75,000 tech professionals work across Vancouver, and the industry generates more than $23 billion dollars in revenue, meaning the tech sector in BC (which includes video game publishers as well as software publishers, motion picture and video production, pharmaceutical and medicine, computer, and navigational instruments) is a bigger employer than mining, oil, gas and forestry combined.

 

One area we’d love to see grow faster is the number of women who work in gaming development.  According to a report in 2015 by Nordicity, “the representation of women in the industry workforce has not changed over the last two years. Women still represent only 16% of the overall video game workforce. (They) are generally more highly represented in jobs in the marketing and communications and operations and administration job categories… however, these categories only account for about 21% of the industry’s total workforce. Women are the least represented in technical job categories, where they account for only 6% of the workforce.”  There are a number of meetups, networking groups, and social organizations whose goal is to support and encourage female gamers and developers, including Girls Learning Code and Ladies Learning Code.  According to the Ladies Learning Code Vancouver site, “Our adult programming offers women (and men) hands-on, project-based learning experiences that are designed to give beginners the skills and confidence they need to become digital creators.”

 

Video Games are mainstream and have long gone well beyond pure entertainment.  They are on your phone, in your living room, and out on the street, and they are a driving force behind many technical applications, such as education and training in medicine and defense strategy, in schools and in the workplace.  As the press around Video Game Day states, “Gaming is a pervasive part of our culture, coloring everything from our choices in clothing to our taste in cuisine, there are even themed restaurants that are entirely dedicated to gamers and the games they love. Video Games Day is dedicated to recalling this defining part of our culture and sharing it with our fellow gamers, new and old alike. Get your game on!”