“Culture is the lifeblood of commerce,” according to Middleburg entrepreneur Vincent Bataoel. He and his partner Nelina Loiselle started an environmental consulting company called Above Green 10 years ago, and today they have 8 employees in their office on Jay Street. The company is a Certified B Corporation, which makes them a part of the world of new companies that are using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Their business uses a program called LEED Certification to promote sustainable development practices in places such as New York City and Washington DC. Their company’s mission is to reduce the impact that new construction projects have on the environment. They operate in a 3,000 square foot office on the east side of Town in a space that they call “cozy commercial”, its a hybrid between a high-end home and a Class “A” office. Their work environment is just one of the ways that they’re changing business as usual.

“You can only work in front of a screen for so long before you tap out on your creative energies. So much of what we do is high pressure and highly analytical,” says Loiselle. That’s why their business has implemented policies such as a six-hour workday, unlimited vacation, profit sharing, company trips, work from home, and flexible hours.

Above Green is one of many businesses that are starting a new trend called lifestyle companies, which build their business models around the kinds of experience that they want their employees to have. West coast companies like Google, Etsy, Apple, and Facebook have led the charge to not only employ but also motivate and inspire. “You don’t have to be a Google to provide a good quality of life for people,” says Bataoel. “You just need to develop a mindset that makes it okay to relax. Besides, you can’t think clearly when you’re all wound up.”

To reinforce their commitment to a high quality lifestyle, the company has a 10-point ‘Cultural Manifesto’ that all employees sign. Items include: #2 “If you drive more than 30 minutes to work then its mandatory to work one day per week from home”, #3 “Everyone is required to take a 30 minute lunch break, away from the computer,” and #6 “Three days time-off per quarter is mandatory”. The duo claim that the manifesto has boosted morale and productivity, but Bataoel says “nothing has boosted morale more than all the free protein snacks.”

“We made the manifesto to make it clear that we’re serious about not taking ourselves too seriously,” says Loiselle. “There are a lot of companies that talk about flexible hours and vacation time, but we think de-stressing is just as important as getting your job done, if not more important in the long-run, and that’s why we require it.”

Anyone who wants to learn more about the company’s culture can contact the cofounders: vincent@abovegreen.com or nelina@abovegreen.com. More information about B Corporations can be found at www.bcorporation.net.

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