Embracing Conflict

As a kid, I was very uncomfortable with conflict. I wanted everyone to get along, and when they didn’t, it made me uneasy and anxious. I often tried to solve problems that weren’t really mine, and was eager to build bridges between people in an effort to keep the peace.

Early in my career, as a newly promoted manager in video games, I continued to struggle with conflict, as I interpreted all argument as discord, and I believed it was my responsibility to maintain harmony within the team in order to keep people motivated and moving forward. Once, in a technical team meeting, a discussion about how to approach a challenging new feature turned into a particularly heated argument. As was normal for me, I waded in and tried to diffuse the tension before it got out of hand. A software engineer (who I have since thanked) turned to me and told me that, by trying to make everyone get along, I was in fact blocking creativity and the healthy flow of ideas.

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What the heck is an .eps file?

When working with a Graphic Designer, there comes a time where the final art files are delivered to you, and you can begin the exciting process of planning what you’d like to do with them, be it for a vinyl wall decal or in an email signature. Knowing which file type should be used for each of these kinds of projects can be confusing – should you choose a .png or .ai? …and what the heck is an .eps file?

These questions can often pop up when a branding folder full of logos using different file formats is handed over to you, and as with most things, clear communication is key to getting the most from your designer and saving time and money. Rather than a flurry of emails explaining what type of file to use and where, it helps to understand the basics of file types and to know exactly what you want out of the final product and which files you need to get it done.

Here is a guide to some of the different file types used by Project House Graphic Designers on a daily basis to help our clients make the most of their graphic projects. We’re going to start today with raster and vector based files, because this is the major differentiator of file types.

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Project House Client Spotlight: Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach to mature corporate women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

The design team at Project House was thrilled to partner with Connie to design and create a beautiful and informative marketing brochure, using key messages from her mission and values in combination with beautiful new photographs of Connie and her food, taken by our talented pal Kevin Shoesmith.

project house connie pretula graphic design brochure mockup

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Feeling Pinched? 10 Signs It Might Be Time For A New Office Space

You might be feeling the pinch of an overcrowded workspace without even realizing it. Here are 10 reasons it might be time to upgrade your office space:

  1. Getting up from your desk is an agility contest. You can’t get out of your desk area without climbing over and around boxes and mounting piles of paper, supplies and other materials.
  2. You have downsized desk sizes at least twice already. In an attempt to gain more workspace for new hires, you’ve forced everyone to purge their stuff and sold them on the idea of further collaboration by sitting closer together…twice! You are pretty sure your employees will all walk out if you ask them to downsize yet again. Besides, you’re not sure you can actually buy smaller desks than the ones you have now – they need to be at least large enough for a laptop, right??!
  3. You have taken over every meeting room with workstations. This is classic – you need more space and there is a big room over there, just waiting to be filled with more bodies…but wait, how can you hold a team meeting, entertain or meet with clients…in the hallway? No wait…see #6.
  4. Your new hire has to sit in the lunchroom.  The lunchroom is already standing room only…and you have two new hires starting next week and they will likely have to move in there too. You might have to put everyone on a 5 minute rotating lunch schedule! It’s important to have breakout space – somewhere for people to eat away from their desks, collaborate, and have informal conversations.

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PH Team Member Spotlight: Sandi Callender

Sandi is Project House’s Engagement Manager.  Her many responsibilities include welcoming and onboarding new clients, training new team members, tracking all of our projects, and keeping on top of monthly commitments and events.  Sandi joined our team in March 2015 and she has been instrumental in helping us keep the trains running on time ever since!
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The Story of The Baker

A story we often tell when we get asked what Project House is all about, is one about a Baker who loves to bake pies.  We’ll call him The Baker.  The Baker made pies all of the time.  His pies were well-loved by his family, who demanded pies for every conceivable occasion.  His pies were delicious and better than anything available in a shop.  Over time,  The Baker started making pies for his kids’ fundraising events, for his friends and their friends, and before he knew it, his pies were in such high demand that he had a business on his hands and he needed to hire some helpers and find a community kitchen space several days a week just to keep up with the orders.

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Project Spotlight: Steadyhand Investment Funds

Steadyhand Investment Funds came to us for design assistance with their office space.  They were nearing the end of their lease term and had the opportunity to make some tenant improvements and give the space a bit of a facelift.  They wanted to brighten their space through new paint and lighting, showcase their artwork in a more thoughtful way, create a more inviting foyer area, and find ways to increase privacy in some work areas.  They didn’t want to make too big a change, but they wanted to renew their workspace as much as possible.

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Taking Time to #Unplug

You may have heard of a day urging everyone to “Unplug” – it’s a simple idea: put away your devices, look up from your phone, laptop, or games, and go outside, spend time with family, unwind.   There’s even a National Day of Unplugging each Spring that was started by Reboot, a nonprofit Jewish community who were inspired by taking a break on the Sabbath.  Good idea you say, and yet you are likely reluctant to hide your phone or tablet for even a few hours!  For many of us, the importance of stepping away from technology grows along with our dependency on it.

At Project House, we feel it’s important to take a regular tech break and smell the flowers/walk the seawall/stare deep into a dog’s eyes.  

Now if you’re like me and the idea of being away from email for 24 hours gives you heart palpitations or if your job is remote or online and you don’t really have the choice to take a whole day off, remember that every small step counts. Meet a friend for coffee and pledge to leave your phones in your bag.  Sign off from social media for an afternoon and take a walk outside. Make a ‘no phones at the table’ rule during meals.  Read a book in one room and leave your phone and computer in another.  Dare yourself to post your blog a day late.  The goal is to disconnect for a period to relish the freedom from the never-ending information overload and focus on your surroundings and yourself.  You’ll be amazed at what might stand out as important and what your brain can dream up when not faced with the constant stream of other people’s ideas and updates.  Problem solving, motivation, and organization – these all stem from a clear mind, and you might just find the inspiration you were looking for inside of you, instead of on Pinterest.

Need some tips on starting small?  Schedule a weekly “unplug” hour or afternoon.  Keep your phone in your bag when you’re with friends.  Keep your phone outside the bedroom when you go to sleep.  Set up a “I’ll get back to you soon!” autoreply for emails, so you’re not a slave to answering right away.  And next Spring, remember to pencil in the National Day of Unplugging. You can take the Unplug pledge at http://nationaldayofunplugging.com (and they’ll even send you a sleeping bag for your phone!)

PH Team Member Spotlight: Kimberly Burke

Kim is Project House’s talented in-house graphic designer.  She joined our team in March 2015, and she has worked on a range of internal and client projects, including logos, social media banners, templates, window decals, website graphics, and customized stationery.

A native of Calgary, Kimberly ventured to “rainy” Vancouver looking for a career that would keep her right brain busy. After being mentored by a graphic designer while working at an art centre, Kimberly realized this was her dream job, and did what she could to make it a reality. She studied at Visual College of Art and Design where she designed media ranging from wine tags to websites. Even in prior roles in the service industry, Kimberly’s employers tapped into her innate illustration skills to help them create promotional material. And now that’s just part of what she gets to do with the awesome team at Project House!

Best advice from mom: Find a man that treats his mother well.

In my spare time I draw silly cartoons to get a laugh from friends.

I am inspired by going for walks along the seawall; it allows me lots of time to think, and the people watching is great.

Get Inspired by some of Kim’s work here. Find Our Story and read other Project House Team Member bios here.

 

What Work Life Balance Means to Me

I’ve written about my family a lot over the years and the significance of their role in my goals for setting up our company and creating a flexible workplace for our team and ourselves. A huge part of our dream for Project House has been to create a workplace that allows our team to pursue a balanced life no matter what that means for them. For me, balance means being able to accompany my kids on a class field trip, take my daughter to a ballet recital, hike with my dogs in the forest, and spend time as a family in the evenings and weekends – in combination with work I love doing, clients that appreciate me and my expertise, alongside great team members. Most of the time I can have all these things – and for me, that adds up to my own personal definition of “work-life” balance.

Before starting Project House, I looked around at the employment world and realized there were really very few places I could go where I could get the work-life balance I was craving, despite the fact that I knew I could be highly productive in a shorter work week or work day. I figured if I couldn’t find a job that gave me the flexibility that I needed for myself, then I would have to build one that did. As our little business grew and more and more people wanted to join our team, we realized what an untapped market there was for people just like us, looking for meaningful, flexible opportunities to do great work on their own terms.

Now – I know it’s not a one size fits all – balance means something different to everyone, and the key to success is discovering that unique ratio that gives you peace and happiness…and…let’s be honest, pays the bills. For some people, that might mean 10-15 hours of consulting work per week, for others it could be a full-time job that starts at 6am, and for others it’s something else entirely. I by no means place any judgement on anyone for the work or family choices they make, and I’m certainly not going to pretend or presume that we all can choose to work less. What I do know, however, is that by encouraging businesses to provide their employees with more flexibility for family, exercise, rest, and fun, they can fuel a more dedicated and productive workforce. Let’s face it, when people are happier, healthier, less stressed, and less guilty around free time, they can be way more productive.

The work environment that Heidi and I have created at Project House will hopefully inspire more conversations around how different companies truly can bring elements of flexibility into their culture. We empower our team to be mature, take the time they need to take care of their health and families, and take responsibility for their deadlines and work commitments. Many of our team members only have a few hours a week to dedicate to work – but we know that they are going to be highly productive during that time. We hope that this concept will continue to gain momentum, and we are excited to be nominated for YWCA’s Outstanding Workplace Award this year – maybe our little workplace evolution (revolution??) will gain a little traction!