It‘s okay to go slow

An internal aspect of running our studio: we are a calm company.

I checked: the stones don’t come in heart shapes from the quarries (unfortunately). And the City of Imbé beach certainly did not order them that way. There are two, in less than twenty meters. It’s up to the mason who’s laying the pavement, with a sledgehammer, a chisel and incredible strength — which my construction engineer friend assured neither one of us have — to hammer and break the stones so they more or less fit together. The level of precision in cutting that heart was a deliberate choice. Someone, that day, was in no hurry.

There was no newsletter, neither in December nor in January. Now I thought I’d write about that, an internal aspect of running our studio. Is it a kind of sophisticated mea culpa? Yes, but it’s also the truth. We are a calm company.

When I left an established career in one of the world’s largest type foundries, I did it in search of autonomy. To be free to do things how and when I wanted. And I’m not alone. A survey of more than 5,000 knowledge workers¹ found that autonomy is even more important than pay.

I ensure that the people who work with me are absolutely willing to work here, when and for how long they prefer. The projects are scheduled considering only 4 to 5 hours per day, with total autonomy of schedules. It allows sleeping long hours, for those who like that; going to the organic fair, swimming at the beach during the day, going to the gym at the best hour. Doing a personal project, taking the kid to and from school in person. We respect people’s time and also their attention. Typeface design requires focus and any interruption gets in the way, so we don’t use Slack or anything like it. And, believe me, we always delivered all projects on time. On average, corporate clients give us a score of 9.7 for the satisfaction of working with us.

If you found this interesting, I recommend reading the book ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work’, by Basecamp founders David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, for practical advice; then ‘Let my people go surfing’ by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, for inspiration.

The newsletter doesn’t always come out, but that’s okay. We won’t get too far too quickly, but without rushing, the path becomes more beautiful.

Fabio Haag

¹ Forget Flexibility. Your Employees Want Autonomy. Holger Reisinger and Dane Fetterer, Harvard Business Review, 2021