- Why Wdesk
2014 Sustainability Report
2014 Sustainability Report
Letter from the CEO
Global corporations face a long list of sustainability concerns, including worker safety, product integrity, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and conflict minerals. As demand grows for more sustainable business practices, so does pressure for transparent information. That’s why more than 70 percent of world’s largest companies now publish sustainability reports.1
At Workiva (formerly WebFilings), we applaud companies that publish sustainability reports to help people make informed decisions. These reports are very complex, and gathering data across an enterprise and from a disparate supply chain can be difficult and time consuming. Our Wdesk cloud-based product platform simplifies data collection and streamlines the reporting process from beginning to end.
Wdesk is a secure, online, collaborative workspace where teams can create, review, and publish their sustainability reports in real time. Innovative data-linking technology allows our customers to increase productivity, optimize processes, find solutions to difficult problems, plan for and mitigate risk, and evaluate and report on progress.
As a cloud-based company, Workiva also helps our customers cut their carbon footprint and waste by reducing printing and shipping of physical documents. Universal access to Wdesk allows team members to work from anywhere in the world, eliminating excess travel. And the efficiency of a single-source, linked document saves time at the office, which helps improve our customers’ work-life balance.
Just like our forward-thinking customers, Workiva relies on technology to advance sustainability. In this report, you will learn about how our offices are built to the highest environmental standards and designed to foster collaboration, so employees can freely share their ideas. We support company-wide learning with Workiva University and continuing professional education programs for customers at our user conference. We employ stringent data security, reliability, integrity, and privacy practices at every level.
Innovation and sustainability are core company values. We built Wdesk upon this foundation, and we are honored to help other corporations share their sustainability stories. It is my hope that in doing so, we can all work together toward a more sustainable world.
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
Wdesk is a powerful, enterprise office product platform based in the cloud. Thousands of corporations use the integrated, collaborative solutions of Wdesk to easily organize and manage data to create complex business reports in real time. Wdesk is an easy-to-use, online workspace where teams can co-author documents and reports without having to go to IT for assistance.
Innovative data-linking technology ensures that Wdesk documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are always synchronized. When numbers or text change, the corresponding uses of that data across hundreds or thousands of pages are automatically updated in real time.
We are expanding the use of Wdesk across several other departments because of how it automates and aggregates our information in an easy-to-use platform. It’s like one-stop shopping.
—Rebecca Bosworth | Manager of External Reporting, Energizer Holdings, Inc.
Wdesk users control their business data by collecting it from a variety of formats and linking it in the cloud to any source required. A full audit trail provides users the accountability and confidence they need in their mission-critical reports.
It only takes a few hours for companies to deploy Wdesk. Once it’s in place, Wdesk transforms the way financial management, risk, compliance, and sustainability reports are created, reviewed, and published.
We don’t just develop technology—we listen to our customers and create solutions to meet their needs. We create data elements that store numbers and text, so they can quickly be found and used in multiple ways. We employ Agile software development methods that place customers at the heart of the design process. Constant collaboration and iteration deliver new software functionality at a fast pace.
As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, we do not extract any raw materials, nor do we manufacture physical goods. The greatest environmental impact from our operations is the data centers that support our cloud-based solutions.
Google estimates that cloud-based storage uses 68–78 percent less energy than traditional on-premise servers. In addition, the data-center providers we rely on are strong advocates of clean energy. One of our providers states that 34 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources. Another provider is working to make all of its data centers more sustainable. One of the data centers we employ operates with 100 percent carbon-free power.
Wdesk also helps customers lower their carbon footprint and waste by reducing printing and delivery of physical documents. During the past year alone, Wdesk produced 10,766 digital documents that were viewed an average of more than three times. This saved an estimated 2.8 million printed pages or 238 trees.
Our customers come first in our solutions and our service. We are committed to responding around the clock with personal attention to detail. Our customer satisfaction scores are extremely high: 98 percent report that they are either “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with our products and services. When we receive poems, cards, and gifts from them, we know we are improving their lives along the way.
Prior to Wdesk, our reporting process was more complex and involved dealing with multiple third-parties. With Wdesk, the power and control of our business data is in our hands. It makes it easy for my team to collaborate—saving time and improving accuracy—which makes a big difference in our work.
—Mark Garrett - Executive Vice President and CFO of Adobe
The largest corporations in the world trust us with their most sensitive data, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We employ stringent data security, reliability, integrity, and privacy practices at every level. We aggressively test the security of our operations by subjecting them to ongoing penetration and vulnerability testing. The quality of our data security efforts is validated by our annual completion of the rigorous SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type 2 audit process.
Innovation and Education
Before 2010, no one had automated how public companies report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Although this information had enormous power, it was often mishandled with rolling versions of spreadsheets and text-based documents, disparate emails, unencrypted data, and little accountability.
Corporations were burdened with obsolete, manual processes that were time consuming and fraught with errors. A team of software engineers and accountants decided the system was ripe for reform, so they created Workiva.
Our cloud-based solution took the market by storm in March 2010. We fundamentally changed the way people collected and reported business data, and our solution spread like wildfire. By the fall of 2013, we had filed more quarterly and annual reports with the SEC than any other third-party provider.
Companies began to use our solutions across their enterprises to collect, track, and review data for a variety of external and internal business reports. In March 2013, we renamed our platform Wdesk because it had become a collective, real-time workspace for thousands of users.
Today, Wdesk is a robust product platform for creating and managing a wide range of complex business reports. Our customers can efficiently leverage their business data—regardless of where it resides—and ensure it is always accurate and up to date.
We love learning about how our customers innovate with Wdesk inside their own companies. It’s so easy and nimble that they create new ways to use Wdesk every day. The possibilities seem endless.
When we help a biotechnology company save $500,000 or create a way for a conglomerate to track billions of dollars across multiple countries and subsidiaries in one linked report, we create lasting relationships. But when we help a global bank reduce its review time from three weeks to two days or streamline an otherwise complicated merger for a utility company, we give our customers a new-found luxury: more time to focus on the things that matter most.
Sustainability relies on technological advances to conserve resources and reduce waste. Wdesk technology takes that one step further by helping corporations accomplish more with less, increase efficiencies, streamline processes, and find new solutions to difficult problems.
Because our business is in the cloud, our offices are nearly paperless. We rely on Wdesk, video conferencing, and associated emails to conduct our daily work. This not only significantly increases efficiency and reduces errors, it allows us to create, comment, change, review, and publish our business documents and reports in real time. We don’t even print stationery. In the rare case when we need it, we create it on the fly and usually send the letter by email.
In 2013, we completed the first building on our growing headquarters campus in Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University and the birthplace of the first digital computer. We believe that university research and teaching facilities foster vast knowledge centers that inspire our employees. Therefore, based on our experience working with Iowa State, we created additional Workiva offices in the following university communities: Arizona State University, Montana State University, University of Colorado Boulder, and University of Montana.
Innovation is our core business. We release a new version of Wdesk nearly every day. As we create functionality at this speed, it becomes imperative that we educate our employees and our customers at the same pace.
Our culture is based on an innate curiosity that allows us to truly understand our customers’ needs. When our customers told us that they wanted to meet other Wdesk users and expand Wdesk within their organizations, we created an annual user conference, The Exchange Community. In 2013, we offered more than 60 workshops and sessions, and CPAs were able to earn up to 16 continuing professional education (CPE) credits. Each year, The Exchange Community gives customers useful information and skills to use throughout the work day. It also allows us to collaborate with them directly to continue learning what they need and incorporating customer-driven solutions across our platform.
As part of our knowledge commitment, we created the Workiva employee university, featuring an in-house, e-learning curriculum. This is designed to help employees keep current with industry and technology issues. Throughout 2013, employees spent approximately 8,466 hours learning online or in person at instructor-led courses. We also pay for employees to maintain professional certifications and licenses that are important to our customers, and we host regular employee education sessions on business, industry, technology, and workplace topics.
Our reach extends to professionals beyond our customers and employees at Workiva. During 2013, Workiva helped a total of 2,635 CPAs and other licensed professionals earn approximately 11,950 CPE credits through workshops and webinars.
We support our employees in the same progressive manner in which we develop software solutions.
We encourage our employees to think creatively to find solutions. Our offices are designed to foster an open forum where we can freely share our ideas, thoughts, and opinions on a wide variety of topics.
This innovative work style fuels groundbreaking technologies and world-class customer service. It also wins awards. For four years in a row, peers in the Iowa Technology Association have recognized Workiva as Iowa’s technology company and the state’s software company of the year. The Iowa Technology Association recognized our rapid adoption within the world’s largest enterprises and that we now have more than 800 employees with offices in 12 U.S. cities and 3 other cities around the globe. As we scale our company, we know that a diverse workforce is essential to our innovation and our growth.
We often work from remote locations. In fact, one out of seven employees is a telecommuter. Last year we collectively logged more than 26,000 hours in teleconferencing. This saves travel costs and conserves fossil fuel. However, the nature of our direct-sales approach requires our sales team to fly frequently. The positive aspect is that we spend quality face-to-face time with our customers and prospects. Yet it also means that one of the largest environmental impacts from our business (second to energy use at data centers) is jet fuel consumption. Our employees flew 6,153,113 miles last year, equating to about 1,667 metric tons of carbon emitted. This is the first year we have recorded our flight miles, and we expect this number to increase in the coming years as demand and adoption grows for Wdesk.
Our offices tend to be in smaller cities where mass transportation is not widely available. However, we regularly encourage employees to bike and walk to work and to use public transportation wherever possible to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Our employees have the flexibility to achieve a genuine work-life balance, so they have the time to be active in their communities. Our Denver employees joined the local Habitat for Humanity crew to help build a family home. Across the United States, we were involved in a wide variety of hands-on community service projects as well as office-based fundraisers. From silent auctions to fun runs, baking competitions, sports, and game tournaments, we gathered our resources, time, and connections to raise support for local charities. In 2013, we increased our United Way contributions by 73 percent.
Ames employees took on hunger globally and locally. In August, we packaged food for Meals from the Heartland, a program that prepares and ships meals to hungry families around the world. We also donated food and nonperishable items to the Food Bank of Iowa for local families in need.
To help develop future scientists, we sponsored the Women in Science Fellowship Program at the Field Museum in Chicago for the third year. The program provides scholarships for outstanding young women pursuing science careers. To date, the Women in Science Fellowship has helped 15 graduate students pursue research and education. This program was expanded during the past year to include summer internships for young female high school students and year-round opportunities for undergraduate women interested in science.
Where We Live and Work
A variety of locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials were used, such as coverings of Iowa limestone and recycled aluminum. Many furnishings, including carpet, were chosen because they were cradle-to-cradle recyclables. Even our hands-free plumbing saves energy with flowing water that recharges batteries.
Our hospitable, open atmosphere is designed to make day-to-day work enjoyable in relaxed settings. It is common to find us working outside when weather permits. Our Ames' kitchen is state of the art with energy-efficient appliances. Food is sourced from local farmers during the growing season or picked from our own herb and vegetable gardens.
Our headquarters campus includes:
- Bikes available for employees
- Above-grade insulation that improves heating and cooling efficiency
- Native prairie restoration
- Partnerships with local farmers and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs
Our carbon dioxide equivalent for measuring our emissions from natural gas and electricity use in our operations is estimated to total about 1,087 metric tons in 2013 (based on U.S. Energy Information Administration multipliers). The foundation for our environmental data are our offices in Bozeman, Mont.; New York City, N.Y.; and Ames, Iowa, which hosts 58 percent of our employees. Because we have offices in multitenant buildings, one of our key challenges is that we cannot obtain precise information in Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; and Scottsdale, Ariz.
Prairie grasses and other plants grow densely throughout our Iowa campus to reduce storm-water runoff. Instead of washing away precious topsoil, rainwater is filtered by plant materials, slowing the release into nearby streams and helping reduce flash flooding. Bioswales in the parking lot help filter out oils and other debris that would otherwise flow directly into the storm system. We also pay close attention to water usage. Our solar-powered irrigation system has sensors that measure the moisture content of soil and only water the grounds when it is truly needed. Water conservation systems are also incorporated in our new buildings, including a dishwashing system that recycles 70 percent of its water.
As a cloud-based software company, Workiva has already significantly decreased the amount of waste generated from printing. But each year, we strive to do more. In Ames, our trash goes to the Ames Resource Recovery Plant, one of the oldest recycling plants of its kind in the country, where 75 percent of the waste is used to generate electricity for the municipal utility.
According to the Ames electric plant, every pound of refuse derived fuel (RDF) generates 0.225 kWh of electricity. Last year we generated 32,760 kWh of electricity with our trash, enough energy to power 468,000 laptops for a year. This alternative energy source saved 32 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere.
We also know that electronic waste is the fastest growing sector of solid waste, and we follow strict guidelines for disposal of electronic devices. Our local recycler separates all raw materials for a separate processor that follows the Responsible Recycling Practices (R2) certification. To help our employees do the same, we created Workiva Unplugged, so they could recycle their personal, unwanted electronic devices. We recovered 70 devices that were either donated, repurposed, or recycled in a responsible manner.
Last year, we committed to reduce our carry-off waste by 30 percent by 2015, and we are progressing toward that goal. Our research concluded that two initiatives will have the biggest impact: eliminate disposable cups at all offices and compost a portion of our food waste from the Ames' kitchen.
1International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2011. KPMG. Retrieved from http://www.kpmg.com/TW/zh/Documents/ccs/KPMG-international-corporate-res...>