I’ve been working at Wholegrain Digital for about a year and a half. Recently, I made the decision to leave the UK and relocate to Germany. Sadly, this will mean leaving a few things that I hold dear behind – namely Hackney, Marmite, and Wholegrain Digital.
Working at Wholegrain Digital has been a really unique and rewarding experience, one which I doubt I could find anywhere else. What I admire most about Wholegrain is that it is a company that really lives up to its values. It should be considered a case study for how businesses can walk the walk – not just talk the talk. I wanted to join Wholegrain because I was really interested to work with sustainable businesses, learn more about greening the internet, and work in a tight-knit team that lives by the company’s values. That was what I expected walking into the job – and I experienced that, plus a whole lot more.
Here are some of the things that made working for Wholegrain an incredibly unique and enriching experience for me.
Ethical policies and transparency
Wholegrain is a certified B Corp which means that it goes above and beyond to use business as a force for good. This isn’t just a claim: B Corp certification is extremely difficult to achieve, and Wholegrain not only met but exceeded requirements when re-certifying its status recently. I didn’t know much about B Corps before joining the company, but I can assure you that if you are looking for a new job or even a business to partner with, B Corp certification is a really positive sign.
Wholegrain endeavours to make communication with staff truly ethical. Tom and Vineeta place a big emphasis on transparency, particularly financial transparency, which is really important in an agency.
Wholegrain is also dedicated to running a truly ethical business in terms of their relationships with clients. I’ve worked in a number of agencies that weren’t always honest with their clients, or that took on work with clients that I was hesitant about. Wholegrain’s mission to work with only positive organisations is what really attracted me to the role, and I was pleased to see that potential clients do go through a screening process.
Another thing I would wish to highlight is how much trust is given to employees. I’ve worked in organisations before where senior members of staff really struggle to give their trust to newer or younger employees. As far as I can see, this has never been the case at Wholegrain. This job has granted me a huge degree of autonomy – from how I do my work, to how many hours I work each day. Tom and Vineeta really do empower everyone to be responsible for their own work and time. I think this only benefits Wholegrain’s employees (and by extension, our clients) by producing better quality work and happier staff.
I would describe myself as an environmentalist, and so far in my career I have had the privilege of working for both an environmental NGO and a sustainable agency. Understanding a company’s sustainability practices and carbon footprint has become an important factor for me when job seeking. When it comes to environmental business practices, Wholegrain does better than any other organisation that I know of.
Some of the ways Wholegrain promotes a truly sustainable agenda include:
- Home office three to four times a week (during pre-COVID times!) to reduce the need for staff to travel to and from work
- Extra holiday days for using renewable energy at home. Recently, 100% of our staff switched to Bulb, which is amazing!
- Wholegrain was a founding member of Climate Perks, which pledges to give staff extra holiday days when using a sustainable method of transport to get to and from their destination. One of the biggest deterrents of using trains, ferries and buses for holidays is the time that using these slower transport methods will take from your already limited amount of annual leave. Climate Perks aims to mitigate that.
- Climate Perks ties in with a company-wide no fly policy
- Plant-based food at work events
- Purchasing second hand equipment where possible
- Carbon offsetting and syncing
- Creating a culture of sustainability: as colleagues, we are all interested in this topic and are always sharing tips and articles with one another on how to live a more sustainable life. This is actively encouraged by Wholegrain’s management team.
My experience at Wholegrain wouldn’t have been the same without my colleagues. Even as a semi-remote team, we work incredibly well together. It’s very refreshing to work in a team where everyone gives their absolute best – which is what I noticed at Wholegrain from the get-go.
But something equally (if not more) important: my colleagues are really great people. I enjoy spending time with them, whether it is chatting on Hangouts, eating falafel in the park or joining them for post-work drinks. Team days with Wholegrain are always really fun – no escape rooms in sight. Instead, we’ve done some genuinely interesting things: we built and installed solar panels, during which I got to try my hand at soldering. We also did a pottery course which was amazing!
Looking back over the past few months, I feel incredibly proud of the team and how we all pulled together during the pandemic. We weathered a really difficult time together whilst working fully from home, and despite not seeing each other for months, it definitely made us grow closer.
When I look back over my projects over the past year and a half, I feel like I have a lot to show! Because of Wholegrain’s policies and the types of clients the agency attracts, every project I have worked on has felt very meaningful to me.
Here is a small selection of some of the projects I’ve worked on:
- Website Carbon – Wholegrain’s innovative carbon calculator for websites, featuring our custom-built API
- Engage Britain – Brand new NGO Engage Britain, who aim to break down communication silos and engage members of the public to discuss solutions to Britain’s most pressing problems
- Nu-Heat – The UK’s largest underfloor heating and renewables provider
- Article 19 – A freedom of expression NGO, which releases a global report every year detailing the state of freedom of expression in countries around the world
I’m really sorry to leave Wholegrain behind. It’s a very unique organization, and I doubt I’ll find another one like it. I’m really excited to watch the organisation grow from afar after I’m gone.
I wanted to write this to reflect on my experience, but also to speak to anyone who is interested in applying for a job at Wholegrain. If you’re looking for a job where you want to work hard, have a high level of autonomy and responsibility, and work with highly skilled (and genuinely nice!) colleagues on impactful projects, then I would look no further.