We do what we do because honestly, we love what we do. That said, we’re like anyone else and get the warm fuzzies when someone notices. This week we received notification that we’re shortlisted for not one but two Greater Manchester Business Awards (see the shortlist). The winners will be announced this September. The two categories we got the nod in are as follows.
Community and Social Responsibility
As I wrote on our sustainability page many moons ago, when you’ve been in business for more than two decades, existential questions kinda loom large. Why are we here? Would anyone really miss us if we weren’t? Our answer to that is our sustainability policy and hopefully making the communities we participate in a better place than we found them. We’re always looking for more things to do in this regard, but right now here are some of our activities:
- Charity support – we’re committed to providing 10% of our hosting capacity to UK based charities. Free web hosting might not be the most exciting headline in the world, but it is another cost removed from a charity’s tight budget. Every penny helps. Here are all the charities we support: more than 600 at the time of writing.
- Educational support – we provide a number of services free of charge to local educational facilities, to help their students get to grips with modern web tech.
- Environmentally conscious – we only use renewable power sources at our office and datacentre, and we could probably stop there as many do. We don’t. We donate to the Woodland Trust, to plant enough new trees (and preserve existing ancient forest) to offset about 6 more companies the size of 34SP.com, who might not be as green-minded. We recycle our old hardware and are currently looking at how to offset our staff working from home too (see more on that below).
- It’s a team thing – we’re an accredited living wage employer, we hire locally, and we try to treat our team the best we can. That means everything from flexible sick and holiday periods through to helping where we can with supporting our team in their personal lives through to fun work events online and offline. Pizza Friday is a particular favourite.
Lockdown Virtual Business
We’re also nominated in this category, and again, pleased as punch as it’s something we’ve worked hard on. For a little back story… we sent our staff to work at home around the start of March 2020, a little ahead of the government’s mandated lockdowns I wrote in more detail on that here and then also here. Later in the year we managed to come across another local Manchester company (Virustatic) that make an amazing anti-viral mask product – we made sure to send all our team several of their fabulous products.
Prior to C19, we had always offered our staff the ability to work from home, one day per week. With the onset of the pandemic, transitioning to a full-time model was relatively simple from a technical perspective. The biggest challenge to full-time remote working was an issue of process and procedure. How do we keep people communicating, engaged, happy and well? How do we ensure the work is being completed and completed to a high level of quality each and every day?
I like to think we cracked that puzzle in some part, and as per this interview with IT Pro a couple months ago, we found our productivity soared, not least as measured by our client satisfaction scores. This was in part through the creation of our new customer experience team (essentially a constant feedback, review and training loop) as well as our work towards ISO 9001 accreditation, which we’re aiming to complete this year.
We were so happy with the results that before 2020 ended we extended this for 2021 well in advance. Our current goal is to make this a permanent change in 2022. Work from home will be our default model, with working out of the office an option, not a requirement. While the lockdown changes were made out of necessity, we like to think they’ve made the company not only a better place to work, but a better customer experience too!