HomeLife at VantiA taste of #VantiLife

A taste of #VantiLife

This summer, Team Vanti have welcomed a few new faces to our brand new office, including some absolutely fantastic interns. Software developer and University of Birmingham Computer Science student Tom Goodman joined us in July us for three months, and he’s already part of the furniture! A keen writer, Tom decided to chronicle his time at Vanti on Medium, and he’s very kindly allowed us to reproduce his posts on our own Vanti Life site so people interested in joining our team can get a feel for what life at Vanti is really like. Over to Tom…

#VantiLife — The Beginning

Vanti are an AV and IT systems integrator based in Birmingham, and have been around for over 10 years, working on projects such as the Library of BirminghamUBM’s Smart Workplace and the Energy Systems Catapult. I have been working here on a placement as a software developer for the past two weeks, and the plan over the coming months is to blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly about life at Vanti — So sit back, grab the popcorn and join me for the ride of your #VantiLife…

The Good

It’s day one. I know hardly anyone here. Having arrived fashionably early, I’m sat on a (very comfy) sofa in the reception area of a new office — for both Vanti and I. Within twenty seconds, I’ve been offered a cup of tea from somebody I’d never met before… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg… Over the course of the day, I feel like I’m being waited on hand and foot, with drinks flying at me from all directions. I’ve had the pleasure of working for some absolutely stellar companies in my time, but never have I felt so astounded by the sheer volume of both drinks and care that are just so abundant in the Vanti environment.

But it soon became apparent that it wasn’t just care — both for eachother, and for the work being done — that underpins life at Vanti. Another huge factor that revealed itself was the immense underlying level of trust that everybody has in eachother and the company itself. You’re trusted to do what’s right. Trusted to get the work done that needs doing. If you need to go somewhere for an hour or two, or leave work early, you’re trusted to catch up and importantly don’t have to justify yourself. If you make a mistake, it’s no big deal as long as you learn from it. This trust means that there’s often a huge amount of flexibility across the board. This freedom breeds creativity and means that there’s a universal motivation to be the very best (that no one ever was), and to ensure that everything is done to the highest possible standard — this is where so much of the care comes from.

At Vanti, you’re expected to spend every single day being yourself. There’s no place here for corporate ‘masks’ or personas. Sure, it’s a place of work, but that doesn’t really mean that you have to act any different than you do at home — at the end of the day, you’re the same person. This removal of the masks means that there is a general understanding of eachother and everyone’s much better at understanding what makes people tick, what makes them work better, and eachothers’ strengths and weaknesses. It also means that people are more relaxed, open to humour and all-in-all, fun. It’s a fun, upbeat and engaging place to work, and coupled with striving for care, trust, learning and mastery, it’s a recipe for something truly unique.

The willingness of people to get involved with anything and everything they’re able to help with is astounding. Though I’m technically working as a software developer I’ve cut wood, fitted power sockets, crimped data cables and gotten involved with about every task I can imagine. People pitch in from all angles, and it’s a great way to not only learn, but to adapt to what’s needed at the time. It means that the company senses problems and responds to them in it’s own ‘special’ way.

The Bad

Despite all this, however, it’s not all fun and games.

It’s often the case that neglected communication results in people doing what they think needs doing, but not necessarily what they should be doing, or just not doing what needs doing at all. Everybody’s well-meaning, but it’s frustrating for everyone involved when this happens. The freedom that underpins a lot of what Vanti does can be liberating and frustrating in equal measure. For some people it’s important to constantly have a fine-tuned sense of direction at all times, and lack of this can understandably be difficult for people to adjust to at first. A lack of ‘formal’ team meetings further compounds the problems with communication and means that it can be difficult to know what to work on at any given time.

Often, Vanti’s approach to work can be seen as disorganised, over-relaxed and too informal, and to many potential employees and clients, this can be offputting. At the end of the day, it’s an inherently different way of operating that doesn’t really fit in with the mentality of many other companies (especially larger ones) currently, which is a challenge Vanti are working hard to overcome.

The ‘fluid desk’ (hotdesking) policy is also a source of contention. The reason for it is simple — it provides the flexibility for people to sit near the anyone that they need to work with at any given time — but the downsides are equally evident. I’m guilty myself. For the past week I’ve been sat at the same desk, on the same chair, and if I’m honest I’ve grown attached to sitting here — to the point that I’d probably be mildly annoyed if I had to choose somewhere else to sit tomorrow morning.

The Ugly

For context, this was the first time I’ve ever been let loose with wood and powertools…

My team’s (undeniably ugly) proof of concept for a “happy or not” podium

The Future

Looking forwards, it’s important to work towards reinforcing the good and rectifying the bad — sharing the successes and challenges that we hit along the way. I truly believe that the way that Vanti works, the crazy, fun and engaging atmosphere and the wonderful people that make it happen are absolutely unique, and I feel honoured to have the chance to be a part of this moving forwards.

Hopefully this post has been a genuine insight into Vanti and its inner workings, and has left you wanting more! I’m honestly not sure what the time frame on new instalments of this ‘blog series’ is going to be, but I’ll try to keep y’all posted 💖

If you can’t wait for the next one of these, check out some more #VantiLife here.

Tom (@TauOmicronMu)

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