8. April 2022
Julia Kriegel

A strong Team through Work-life Blending

As a company that has included sustainability as a core value, we are not only concerned with our economic and ecological development, but also to take care of the social pillar to sustainability. Our focus is not only on the working conditions of our suppliers and customers, but especially on the health of every single team member at VAST FORWARD.

What does VAST FORWARD concretely do in the context of social responsibility towards its employees?

Remote work leaves companies and employees with special challenges on the one hand and offers a wealth of opportunities on the other. One of the challenges of our way of working is to keep an eye on the health and job satisfaction of the whole team despite the physical distance and to create a noticeably positive working environment for all. When teams work together in a shared office on a daily basis, looking out for each other and taking care of each other comes naturally. But how does that work in a company that operates 100% remotely? We have always succeeded by using the resources that self-determined work brings with it as well as using shared values, clear agreements and rules.

Freedom, self-determination,
proximity at a distance

Over the years, our VAST FORWARD communication culture has developed and proven itself to be successful. We have continued to pursue proven methods and we “meet” much more frequently today in our growing team than we did a few years back. The reward is a very pleasant and familiar relationship of the VAST ladies, even beyond the actual working hours.

We organize our remote routines according to our individual needs and work in a concentrated manner where we feel most comfortable – which is probably the greatest freedom compared to a regular workplace in an office. The “compatibility of family and job” has always been an important factor for VAST FORWARD. When working with each other in our virtual teams, we use digital communication channels, but not exclusively.

Remote work offers us the important time to balance our daily job as well as family routines: sports, exercise and small time-outs can be built into the day individually, and we can freely place the project tasks in the core times of the working day according to our needs. This is something we call “work-life blending.”

In addition to freedom and self-determination, we naturally need common rituals and rules: A fixed part of our day is the check-in in the morning – in which we not only deal with professional topics, but also exchange private matters. Of course, we also find out how each team member is doing at the moment: stress in projects, illness among the kids, other special private situations such as moving house – it’s super helpful to know what’s going on in each lady’s life. We can then quickly take action and provide support, distribute projects differently or organize support in other ways.

One of our most recent communication tools is the VAST Buddy program, which provides even more “insights” into our respective lives. During our internal workshop series on the topic of “internal communication” our team had the impulse to start the program. In order to create even more room for individual exchange, each team member at VAST FORWARD has a quarterly changing partner within the team, with whom she regularly exchanges information via video chat or through phone calls. The focus here lies mainly on private topics, but can also be professional ones.

The daily communication and exchange with the programmers and graphic designers in our network also helps us to stay up to date, not only professionally – the feeling of really working together in teams and looking out for each other is probably the most important remedy against excessive demands and negative project stress.

For even more variety, we designed the virtual event highlight VAST LIVE in 2021 where we meet with the project management core team and network several times throughout the year with various guests and live music. During pandemic times, we also had to get creative in order to spend one or two nice evenings together.

We also meet in the real world whenever we get the chance. Not only for workshops, but also just for lunch or a nice get-together. Maren and Matthias also like to invite individual team members or the entire team including freelancers from our network to wherever VAST  is located and we spend a weekend together.

Mindfulness, movement -
a good feeling for the long term

Sports and exercise are not neglected at VAST FORWARD. For more than four years we have been meeting on Wednesday mornings to do Zoom Yoga together. Our dear Vanessa and her yogis from Yoga2B provide small, mindful breaks from the daily business and also take care of one or the other little aches and pains.

The sports enthusiasts in the team like to challenge each other in challenges via fitness trackers and thus motivate each other to overcome their inner temptations.

Since we don’t have a daily commute to an office, we not only minimize our environmental footprint, but also save ourselves the stress that rush-hour traffic can bring and even have time for an extra lap in the park.

Our way of working also allows us to go for a jog before or during the working day or to fill up on oxygen during a walk in the fresh air – the work can continue afterwards with even more motivation and concentration.

Julia, our sustainability manager, regularly reminds us to pay attention to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle (thanks, Julia!). She did, for example, invite us to try “veganuary” – abstaining from meat as part of a sustainable lifestyle, so to speak. Of course, we are free to participate as we like. Yet, the fact that we look out for each other in the team feels good in any case!

Fridays are currently also dedicated to sustainability. In the morning, we meet for virtual coworking, which always starts with a contribution from Julia or another team member. The focus of the contributions is on a sustainable lifestyle in our private and professional lives.

Last but not least, it is important for our health to have space for our personal developments, for continuing educational opportunities and events that match our interests and our needs. VAST FORWARD offers us a time allotment to get involved in social projects, even during working hours. And the internal tasks at VAST FORWARD and VAST GREEN are also tailored to the individual skills and interests of us employees.

Our individual freedoms, a sustainable communication culture, cohesion and mutual support from within the team, a pleasant and inspiring working atmosphere, mindfulness and appreciation in all areas are important to us and make a decisive contribution to ensuring that each individual in the VAST FORWARD team is seen and remains physically and mentally healthy. For us, this is what makes a company socially sustainable.