The Anti Hustle

Image by @ johnmhayward

Image by @johnmhayward

Can we be completely honest with you? When we started Off Grid, we didn't really know what we wanted from a design studio - we just came well armed with a list of things that we didn't want and started from there.

We stripped back everything we knew or thought about running a design studio, and started by focusing on us and what we needed. How self-indulgent, right?! But, if we wanted to build a business around ourselves, one that would produce work that  we would be proud of, then that all had to come from us. We knew that to work at our best, our minds had to be at their best too.

The structure that seemed to have been adopted by most creative agencies followed along the lines of; trendy loft spaces with exposed brick, chalkboard walls, ping pong tables, pizza nights when you work late, beers after 4 pm on a Friday and 'break out' areas with weird and wonderful furniture. Maybe we just got old and grumpy, but this really wasn't our jam anymore.

What were our values? What made us happy? We started to think about these things, to grab onto our ideals and pull them around ourselves like the walls of our studio.

1. We value our life outside of work

What an odd notion to think about when creating a business… Everything you do that isn't your job?! But, this really was one of the most important things to us, and if this business meant we had less time for our life - then why are we doing it at all?

2. We value space

Businesses are always pulled into the cities, it makes sense - it’s where all other businesses are, it’s where your clients are and it's where you feel the 'buzz' of the industry. But, our hearts hung heavy every time we stepped off the train to spend a day working in a city. We needed to be away from it, we needed to be able to walk out of our back doors and into green fields during the day, and steer well clear of the rush hours and hustle of the city.

3. We value nature

Before, being active and getting outdoors had to live around the edges of work, grabbing an evening stroll or bike ride in the summer and saving the longer hikes until the weekend - but we needed more than that. A job that requires you to be sat in front of a laptop 97% of the time needs a counterbalance. After hours hunched and looking only a few centimeters in front of your own face - we needed to get outside, to walk, stretch, raise the heart rate, look around us and let the nature to reset and refocus. This had to be more accessible than just around the edges - it had to weave in and out of the whole day.

4. We value creative freedom

Being a designer can sometimes free like the best job in the world, but it also comes with it’s intense level of pressure. There is only so long that you can pour your heart and sole into work that doesn't quite fit your ideals and is inevitably making someone else more money. We can now work as freely as we wish, we work with a wide and varied array of clients producing differing creative outputs, always challenging ourselves and always producing something new.

With these four starting values we've built our business and we come back to them time and time again. As the business grows, as we take on new challenges, and as our life moves around us, we keep echoing these values back on ourselves to make sure that we're still doing this for all of the right reasons.

All hail the anti hustle.