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High internal engagement at Visma Sustainability Month

Visma’s 2023 Sustainability Report unveiled areas for improvement, particularly within office emissions and travel. Building on the learnings from the report, we held Visma Sustainability Month, a four-week series of internal articles and activities covering Visma’s most relevant sustainability topics. Read on to find out what topics are most important to Visma and how we’re addressing them.

6 icons symbolising building emissions, cycling, data centre emissions, lighting, heating & cooling, and diversity & inclusion.

With the role of sustainability only increasing across Visma’s operations, keeping employees informed and engaged in the topic is vital. Not only does this increase internal pride; it also enhances our overall sustainability performance. After all, when employees are proactive about lowering their carbon footprint or making a fellow colleague feel more included, Visma’s overall sustainability profile is strengthened.

Visma Sustainability Month was organised by our Sustainability Board, whose members published a total of 15 articles throughout the month of May on our internal communication platform, Visma Space. Each week covered a different key area for Visma and our stakeholders:

  1. Office emissions 
  2. Business travel 
  3. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)
  4. Hardware and software

The goal was to educate employees on why each theme is important, how the company is working to solve the theme’s challenges, and what concrete steps people can take both at work and at home to contribute. To help spread the message, we created a number of digital resources that were posted in our internal communication channels, as well as public screens in many of our offices.

Week 1: Office Emissions

Reducing office emissions is one of Visma’s largest priority areas. In our latest assessment from 2023, we found that the energy we use in our offices – mainly from lighting, appliances, heating, and cooling –  accounts for ~6,000 tonnes, or about one-third of our total emissions. 

The simplest way to reduce this is by making sure that offices obtain their energy from renewable sources, which in most cases can be arranged with each building’s landlord. On top of that, there are energy-saving measures that can be implemented at the office level. LED lighting, automated temperature adjustments based on real-time office activity, and smart ventilation solutions are just a few examples of how offices are improving their energy efficiency.

But what about at the individual level? There are a number of simple things employees can do to consume less energy. This includes measures like turning off one’s computer and other office equipment at the end of the day, turning off lights when leaving a room, and unplugging any cables that are not in use.

On the waste side, we demonstrated to employees how much room we have for improvement. In our Oslo headquarters for example, there was a total of 36,742 kilograms of waste in 2023, with 54% of this going to landfill. Encouraging the use of reusable cups, food waste campaigns in the canteen, and stricter policies for replacing hardware are just a few examples of steps that companies can take to reduce waste. To inspire other Visma companies, we also shared some success stories from several Visma companies in Denmark who had conducted trash pickup events in their local neighbourhoods.

Week 2: Business travel and commuting

Visma’s emissions related to business travel and commuting are as high as our office emissions. This is not surprising; when meeting with customers, partners, or other stakeholders, many prefer to meet in person. But this comes at a cost, as flying produces significant emissions.

The solution is quite simple. We need to be more discerning about how we move around. One should always consider whether it is truly necessary to meet in person, or if the same objectives can be achieved by meeting digitally. This applies not only to business trips, but also to commuting to the office. Since many drive long distances to work, companies need to assign higher importance to carbon emissions when setting their work-from-home policies.

A number of Visma companies have already begun to update their travel policies, where business travel that provides the most value is prioritised. Employees who travel more frequently are also encouraged to take an active role in evaluating their own travel habits to see which meetings need to be held in person and which can be done remotely.

Company-wide events also play an important role in building camaraderie and starting conversations. Visma Cycle to Work Week took place this week as well, attracting many colleagues who chose to improve their wellbeing by starting the healthy and enjoyable habit of cycling to work more often in the summer.

Week 3: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Visma is a leader when it comes to Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI). We measure our DEI performance via monthly pulse surveys, which demonstrate that we are consistently in the top 5% of the tech industry. That said, we have colleagues who are not familiar with our DEI efforts, and this week was a great opportunity to provide a refresher.

Diversity is a celebration of what makes us unique. It goes beyond gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity to include the individual qualities that give us different perspectives and opinions, such as age, life experiences, beliefs, educational background, physical and mental abilities, and more. Higher diversity in companies is correlated with better decision-making and problem-solving, increased creativity, and higher profitability. Equity is about making things fair, where everyone has equal access to the tools they need to have a good outcome, regardless of their ability or circumstance. Inclusion is the commitment to making sure that all of our colleagues feel valued and respected as individuals. An inclusive workplace welcomes and accommodates our individual differences.

We encouraged colleagues to learn more about our DEI work via a number of internal resources. Our main DEI page offers helpful resources such as our Group strategy, as well as a guide on how to implement DEI in a company, including toolkits and guidelines for carrying out the work. We also pointed readers to our DEI peer-to-peer community, where people can share knowledge and ask questions. The goal with this community is to establish a space for all employees who want to further their understanding of DEI and how to apply it in their companies.

Week 4: Sustainable hardware and software

During this week, we informed our colleagues of all the innovations happening when it comes to data centres and building more sustainable software. 

Data centres are the facilities that host the applications and data that make our software delivery possible. The majority of Visma companies use data centres from the three major cloud providers: Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services.

There are many ways to reduce data centre emissions. One is via Hyperscale Computing (HC), a method that scales resources up or down, depending on demand. Another is via a concept called demand shifting, where we tailor which data centre we draw electricity from based on whether or not it has renewable energy available at that particular moment.

See more ways we’re working to reduce our data centre emissions

These actions are of course done by IT professionals. But it’s important that employees have a high-level understanding of how we actively reduce emissions in such a vital part of our operations. It is also a good lead-in into related topics where employees can have a more immediate impact, such as in coding or file storage.

To help Visma companies evaluate how sustainable their products and services are, we reminded them that we have a Sustainable Software Assessment. This helps them identify where they can make the biggest positive impact in their products, and we expect to further mature the assessment over the coming years.

Final takeaways from Sustainability Month

By the end of the month, the 15 articles had received 10,129 views, 346 likes, and 22 comments from across the organisation. The month also spurred numerous discussions – from how we can move the needle towards more sustainable ways of commuting, to the myriad of ways our software solutions can require less carbon in their development, distribution, and use.

We look forward to making Visma Sustainability Month an annual endeavour, encouraging more and more participation in the topics that matter most to our customers, partners, and other stakeholders.

Learn more about sustainability at Visma

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