Remember the days when you were in school and the teacher surprised you by saying that you were going to sit outside for the class. Looking back, I realize how innovative that was. It gave us the chance to enjoy the good weather, it engaged our minds outside of the expected classroom environment, it changed things up so that we learned how to adapt, and it gave us the opportunity to enjoy something different.
At AHA, we have a business development office in Vancouver, a presence in Calgary and Toronto and our head office is on the Sunshine Coast. It is a studio on half an acre of land in Gibsons, B.C. – one of, we think, the most beautiful places in the world. We’re a small agency and our crew is a team of incredibly talented and smart people that are, for the most part, contractors that we have worked with for years and years. It’s a different kind of business model and one that works well for us and for the contractors.
AHA turned seven earlier this year. When we first opened the AHA doors, we knew that as a Vancouver PR agency we were up against some stiff competition. We worried that we would appear too small for some clients. We worked hard at showcasing that we provide the services, skill set and abilities of a larger agency with special attention to client service. We still focus on communicating that to potential clients. We’ve been fortunate, some high profile clients have come onboard with AHA and we greatly appreciate that they chose us as their PR agency.
We’re a different kind of PR agency and that means we’re not for everyone. That’s ok with us – we’re good with who we are and love the clients who “get” us. I think that one of the things we’re good at is wiping away at the traditional stereotypes of business. That’s good for the people that work with AHA, I know it’s good for Paul and myself, and it benefits our clients.
For example, I am currently in the process of developing several strategic communications plans for clients. One is for government, one is for an educational institution and another is for a not-for-profit. They are very different. For each, I need to completely immerse myself in their world and understand not only what needs to be done, but how that can be done within the context of their individual realities. I need to do my best thinking and my best writing. Where and how will I accomplish this?
At the AHA office, we have an incredible back deck where the sun shines all afternoon, birds sing and our mutts play. I move myself to the back deck to work whenever I can. Never once has a client said: “I don’t want you doing our work in an environment that inspires you and brings out your best work.” Yet, when I tell people where I work or – when I am in a playful mood and tweet about it or put it on Facebook – I sometimes get responses that are surprising. “Must be nice to slack off.” “Wow, wish I could open my own business so I could sit on a deck in the sun in the afternoon.” “Too bad you don’t work for a living.” And so on. Enjoying your work environment doesn’t mean you aren’t being effective. It’s an interesting phenomenon – the one where we believe you have to be in an office to be working.
As I write this, the sun is shining, our dogs are out on the deck and after a few conference call meetings this morning, you can bet I am going to be out there too. And I predict that I will be more productive and get more accomplished because I get to change things up and work in an environment that inspires me.
How about you – do you have the opportunity to take advantage of a different kind of work environment?