Walt Disney wanted to create the Happiest Place on Earth. As CEO, I strive every day to create the healthiest AND happiest branding agency on earth.
Parisleaf has grown since its origins as a small sustainable print purveyor. From a two-employee print service shop in 2010 to a strategic branding agency with eleven team members and an intern in 2017, we’ve learned that if people feel good and are happy they’ll not only stick around, they’ll do their best work, with joy. Alison and I pour our hearts into Parisleaf to make sure that everyone here is happy, engaged and healthy. What’s more, we have solid work processes in place to ensure productivity while we are here. Read on for our secrets.
As a holiday gift in 2016, Alison presented us all with Fitbits. If you own a Fitbit you know the strong drive that this bio-feedback bracelet creates to stay active, especially when competing against friends – or in this case, co-workers. So far, Project Manager Allen Shorter has outstepped everyone with his weekend disc golf marathons, logging as much as 16 miles of walking a day. Not far behind are the rest of us (with me trailing Allen but still kicking it every week at Orangetheory Fitness).
Unlike other small agencies, Parisleaf offers health, dental and life insurance to all employees, in addition to free catered lunch four days a week, which we actually break from work to enjoy together. Lunch is from friends Root & Pecker, whose fresh, sustainably-grown ingredients are a hit with both Parisleaf staff and our guests. From salads to sandwiches to smoothies – we’re spoiled every week with delicious and healthy fare. The team loves to give me flack about my mountainous salads.
But maybe the biggest contributor to a healthy environment is our work schedule. We work 8:30-5:30 Monday through Friday, and that’s it.
Record scratch ~/~ what creative agency does that??
Agency life is pretty much defined most places by a grueling protocol of “we go home when the project’s done.” Not here. In fact, local writer and women’s outreach specialist Michele Leavitt was surprised that not only do we get away with that schedule, turning clients away who aren’t down with it, but we continue to grow every year. She interviewed us and introduced us to OpenWork.org, a nonprofit dedicated to championing progressive work environments for the benefit of all workers, customers and industries. OpenWork did a short feature video on Parisleaf’s unusual agency schedule and culture. Check out how we pull it off in the article and video here:
The best part of feeling loved as employees is in delivering client work that comes straight from a place of wellbeing and joy. Thomas Avila at Greenpeace Fund recently said:
The Parisleaf team didn’t just listen to us as clients, they engaged with us like collaborators. They shared our excitement for what we were creating and met every “could we?” question with a brilliant solution.
Love is the meeting of passion and purpose. When you’re passionate about what you do, you focus easily on your purpose and that of your clients, which leads to joyful creativity.
Focus, of course, requires discipline – we love our work AND our families, and in order to do good work on a regular basis we’re constantly seeking new ways to be more effective. This year we instituted a new 90-minute work cycle. To prevent internal meetings and office banter from breaking up the day and causing distraction fatigue, we preserve a one hour and fifteen minute solid work block five times a day, outside lunch and morning standup meeting, where there’s no talking in the production room. If you have a question for someone you Slack it, and they may have their Slack and email turned off until the fifteen minutes before the next cycle starts, which is “Rest and Reconnect” time. If an internal meeting needs to happen, we try to schedule it to not overlap a work cycle block. That way, everyone can hopefully get at least two to five solid work cycles done in any given day. The upshot has been tighter production numbers and less frazzled teammates. It feels good to know your creative time is being protected.
Sustainability is really the heart of everything we do, and not just the Earth-friendly kind. At Parisleaf, we’re creating a lifestyle we can sustain till we’re all old and gray. We don’t want to turn out work just to burn out. We believe in meeting our challenges with passion and purpose – with love, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year.
About Chad Paris
Chad wanted to own the happiest business in the world and that goal fuels everything he does. Chad’s role is all about relationships and communication with clients and with the Parisleaf team. Chad’s passion lies in giving back to the community—some may call this networking. Chad attributes Parisleaf's success to refusing to be sad. Seriously.