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!

We Love Being Part of Your Team

Last year, one of our clients went through a significant leadership change. We had enjoyed a great relationship with this client, and we felt trusted and effective, providing strategic and operational support regularly and easily. When our primary senior contact informed us he was leaving the organization, we wondered if our work with this client would continue, or if the new leader would be looking to make their mark by handling these pieces differently. We focused on ensuring a smooth transition from one leader to another, making ourselves available to bridge processes and systems, and support continuity.

After this initial transition period, once the new leader had an opportunity to assess their own goals and priorities and set their own tone with the team, he reached out to us. Happily we were asked to step even further into the organization, to spend more time 1:1 with employees, and to make ourselves known and trusted members of the team.

Months later, we are still spending regular time in this client’s office, dipping in more often when there’s a big project to deliver.  We are able to support them in a way that is effective and positive for us as well as the team, sharing our expertise and learning from each other.  When a challenge looms, we can head it off at the pass, or lend our extra muscle in the moment, before it gets too big to handle neatly.  We can help support and nurture the team culture as it evolves.

When this client grows to a size where they need to hire full-time employees to take over some of our services, we may shift into a more traditional consulting role where we lend a hand occasionally in areas where we can add value.  It will be great at that stage to already know and understand the business and to have developed trust with the team.  We will be able to provide training and support, and know that we’ve made a positive impact on the business at its various stages.

We love getting calls from clients who have a big challenge that needs tackling.  By giving us an opportunity to work closely with your team early on, we can help you mitigate risk and solve small problems before they escalate.  We can get to know your employees at every level and we can see your culture in action We can share our skills and experience, earn your trust, and become a valuable member of your organization.  All without breaking the bank or working more than you need.

Project Spotlight: Catherine Falkner’s New Website

This month’s project spotlight focuses on the new website of Catherine Falkner, a local performance artist and good friend. We collaborated with Catherine to bring her unique style to life, using our “Basic” web package. Catherine Falkner is a multi-disciplined artist who predominantly works in performance with a bent toward camp and absurdism, and specializes in theatre, film, video and photography.

Working on the project was so much fun! The idea behind every creative decision was to show off Catherine’s personality and creativity: we incorporated many unique elements such as using her handwritten signature as a logo, bright and unique retro-style patterns and colour schemes, and a performance-based photoshoot that produced some amazing shots of Catherine to show off her personality on every page of her site.  Catherine was a pleasure to work with – her blend of creativity, collaboration, theatricality, sense of humour, and trust in our process really brought out the best in each of us, and resulted in an original and effective site.

Catherine’s goal for her website was to showcase her personality and her work, as well as to provide a point of contact for potential collaborations and opportunities for work.  We needed to turn her desires into reality and stick within a pre-set budget. Catherine Falkner’s site is a great example of how much customization our “Basic” package offers and how you don’t need to break the bank to make it really special.

We are so lucky to have a talented and generous photographer who always adds his talent and expertise to all of our client and Project House shoots, and manages to get the absolute best photo of each person by creating an atmosphere of kindness, trust, and fun. Thank you Kevin Shoesmith!

If you are looking to bring your business onto the web, or to take your existing site to the next level, you’ve come to the right place! Please send us an email at hello@projecthouse.ca and let’s talk about how we can help.

Project Spotlight: the RNFBC launches their new brand!

We are so excited as we have just launched a whole new brand and website for the Registered Nurses Association of BC.  It was a really great process working alongside a positive and collaborative group of people at the RNFBC, and we couldn’t be more proud of the results.

The Registered Nurses Foundation of BC helps address some of the financial costs associated with nursing education through the provision of bursaries. They help alleviate some of the pressures on nurses and the health care system.

The demand for nurses is rising. Currently, on any given day in BC there are at least 1,000 nursing vacancies. These shortages mean the needed care that requires nursing support – such as surgical procedures, homecare, and mental health care services – get delayed or postponed.

With the aging of both the population and of nurses themselves, more new nurses will be needed to fill this gap as a person’s health care needs generally increase with age and as nurses reach retirement age.

The need to help educate new nurses and provide a higher level of education for current nurses has arguably never been greater.

The RNFBC’s website and logo were out of date and they needed something new and fresh that would acknowledge the history of the foundation, while at the same time demonstrate the forward-thinking and innovative nature of the nursing profession.

We started with a creative “charrette” style process where we brought in a group of stakeholders to dive into the message and story the RNFBC wanted their brand to convey…who were they, who are they now, how is their organization evolving, how do they want to be perceived.  Through discussion, visioning, and tough questions we were able to come away with a great understanding of the overall design direction we needed to consider. Then we retreated to our offices to continue our research and continue the creative process.

After pursuing a few brand options, we kept coming back to the idea of the nightingale.  We just loved the symbolism:  it’s active and alive, its body and shape represent movement, and it has a wonderful and fitting historical significance.  We combined the nightingale image with unique, fresh, and beautiful colours to really make it stand apart.

With our branding solution in hand, we could move into the creation of a beautiful and responsive new website. It needed to be easy to navigate, bright and colourful, modern yet professional. It had to appeal to a wide range of users, as visitors to the site might be young nurses applying for a bursary, or older donors looking to make a contribution.  We are so pleased with the overall results and we look forward to continuing to help the RNFBC grow its brand recognition through their website and additional print materials.  We have already created donation forms, posters, and some exciting materials for an upcoming event.

The process of working with the RNFBC is very rewarding.  They are a client who understands where they need help and values the external services of a company like us.  Not only can we provide them with graphics and web design, but we also support them with online donation systems, event planning, hiring, and more.  Combining our expertise and services to help clients grow their business to the next level is what Project House is all about.

 

What sets us apart: Combined Creative Services

Illustration by Jeremy Enecio for Fortune

One of the most unique and exciting aspects of our company is that we can combine our services in order to expand our offeringsWe love innovating within our projects to discover creative solutions that integrate HR, Design, and Web.

Many businesses have an ongoing and serious challenge to hire senior staff with hard-to-find skills, as industry competition for candidate attention can be intense.  In tech, this type of employee is often referred to as a unicorn.  “…unicorn: …staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. They’re hard to find, but once hired, they offer up enormous benefits in the workplace and can take your business to the next level”. (Ryan Holmes | October 5, 2016, Financial Post)

Traditional HR solutions for this problem can include setting up recruiting programs, sourcing candidates from other companies, advertising for the role, reaching out into employee networks, or hiring recruiters.  Sometimes this just isn’t enough.  What else can you do in order to make your voice heard?  Our clients need our help:  what will make a Unicorn notice them and poke their head in the door to learn more about the job?

Because Project House has HR, Branding, Design, and Web expertise, we are able to seamlessly pull these elements together for our clients, and design a business solution that maximizes our skills.

Most recently we were asked to solve the Unicorn Problem for a new client:  after struggling to attract and hire senior, experienced, high calibre engineers, they needed a solution that would target this very specific candidate and get their attention.  This was going to be much more than an HR solution; it would require the creative brains of a Marketing campaign in combination with elements of design, as well some deep-dive discovery – exciting!  We would need to dig into the qualities and common elements of this particular candidate and find out what would most attract them to our client’s business.  We would also need to find out why current star employees had been attracted to the company, then ask why they stay and what matters to them.   We’d have to go into the industry and examine what competitors were doing well, and identify unique unicorn hunting opportunities.

From this discovery phase, we typically move into a design phase, coming up with a few options for look + feel, message + tone, and we make recommendations about where to launch the campaign in order to maximize its impact and reach:  is this a print ad in an industry magazine, a polished conference booth, a unique industry event, or a billboard beside a competitor’s office?

When we meet with clients who are struggling to attract the right candidates, we dive into a number of areas of their business to see what might be going on.  Often we arrive at Employer Brand, which is a way to describe the outside world’s experience and opinion of your company as a place to work – this consists of a combination of your company’s website, social media presence, current and past employee reviews, manager skills, reputation, and more.  Ultimately we try to determine if what your company says matches how it behaves, and identify areas where we can help you bring up your game.  A recruiting campaign could be an ongoing branded effort across all of these platforms, or it could be a special one-off project to fill a critical gap.

Are you struggling to recruit and hire?  Are you hoping to land a unicorn?  We can help!

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy Day of Awesomness!