Mary and son planting trees in Oxford
Nik Roberts
Nik Roberts
10th Nov 2020

Building a sustainable business

Why do we exist?

Ooh, big question! I started Versantus because I wanted to improve my life and the lives of others. I can't do much, but I can make technology easier to understand and use, and can help people do amazing things with it.

I didn't have lofty ambitions when I started, and my ambitions are not much loftier after ten years, but I have settled on an overall aim for Versantus, and it's one the team has helped me refine over the years, and its one I'm pretty happy with. I want to create a business that is happy, healthy, caring and that does good work in a sustainable way. We care deeply about this, and I wanted to share what we're doing with you, so you can help us improve!

What is sustainability? 

Sustainability includes the impact we have on:

  • The environment, both locally and more widely
  • Our team
  • Our business
  • Others who may be affected by our work

We all play a part, and we must be mindful of the impact our actions and inactions can have, and that we act in a way that increases sustainability where we can.

At Versantus, we want to create a business that is happy, healthy, caring and that does good work in a sustainable way. 

 

Our environmental impact

Although we’re primarily office-based, and most of our work is online, we can still have a significant impact on the local, national and global environment.

  • Commuting to and from work or to customer sites. We encourage our team to travel by public transport or by walking, cycling or running to and from work where possible. Where we can, we car-share or use public transport. The entire team can work from home, and are encouraged to do so where it suits their lifestyle
  • Our office generates greenhouse gases through our use of electricity and an oil-fired boiler for heating. This is one of our largest impacts, and we make efforts to behave in a responsible way and reduce power usage where we can. Where possible we also purchase electricity from “green energy” suppliers
  • Our office waste includes recyclable and non-recyclable materials. We have separate recycling bins throughout the office and take great care to ensure they’re used correctly.  We aim to reduce non-recyclable waste as much as possible. We shred and recycle printed materials where we can
  • Our office uses water for drinking, cleaning and toilet flushing. We have water-savers in urinals to combat wastage and deal with any leaks quickly. We have sponsored two toilets in Africa as part of a “toilet twinning” scheme
  • Our project work generates greenhouse gases through servers and other IT equipment that runs the websites and software we use
  • We love projects that encourage greater environmental awareness, including our work for Swarco Econnect, helping them to build a world-beating electric vehicle charging network, and Global Canopy, an organisation that campaigns against the deforestation of the Amazon
  • We discuss and advocate a healthy, meat-reduced diet, with several of the team adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet over recent years

 

Looking after our team

To be a sustainable business, we need to care about ourselves and our customers. A happy, healthy team is more creative, productive and long-lasting.

  • We encourage diversity. We know that a diverse team will generate more and better ideas and produce a better end result by challenging one another to improve. If you're interested in producing exciting results with technology and great design, we don't care where you're from or what you look like
  • We encourage a healthy lifestyle, with most of the team doing some form of regular cycling, running or other outdoor exercises. The business celebrates and sponsors team members who take part in activity challenges, and several of us complete regular Parkrun, 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathons. One member of our team has completed 2 marathons during 2020 Lockdown!
  • We talk about mental health and acknowledge that everyone struggles and needs support from time to time. We provide peer support as well as external support where needed and encourage our team to look after their mental wellbeing

 

Building a sustainable business

A good business makes a profit. A great business makes a difference that lasts. It’s important to us that we build a business that can have a positive impact that lasts. 

  • We invest in our people and recruit for the long-term by providing an environment that is fun and challenging in (mostly) equal measures, by paying them well, and by encouraging participation in every part of our business
  • We spend time learning and allocate a significant budget each year to staying ahead of the technology curve. The team is encouraged to share ideas with one another through regular “lunch and learns”, conferences and meetups.
  • We give back to the community, with donations of time, resources and money to local and national charities
  • We chase excitement, not profits. It would be great to have a yacht for every member of the team, but it’s more important that we’re happy and healthy, and can arrive at work with a smile, and leave on time with satisfaction
Our plantable Christmas Tree cards went down a storm in 2019

 

Where can we improve?

“Being good” is a core value at Versantus, and one we take seriously. We know that we’re in a lucky position, and we want to use our privileges to benefit society. We have no delusions of grandeur, but we help out where we can.

If you think we can do more, please say - we’re always happy to try! Drop us a line, or pop in for a tea and a fair trade biscuit.