James Mayes

Archive for the ‘Rugby’ Category

Rugby, remote working and ISDN lines…

In Personal Development, Recruitment, Rugby, Start-ups on April 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I’ve been mulling over a number of topics for blog posts for the last few weeks and there’s one which just won’t go away. I’m not convinced it’s a polished article just yet – but this isn’t about copy-writing. It’s a blog, it’s MY blog and I’d like to hear opinions!

As you may know, I’m a rugby fan. Not the type who has followed a local club since school-days and played regularly, just one who appreciates the game and (generally) the nature of the people who play it. My main interest is clearly the England internationals – whether it be a friendly tour or something more heated like the recent 6 Nations – and over the years, I’ve noticed a recurrent theme. It’s been widely reported on by sports hacks in the press, so I can’t claim a first with this, but anyway….

It’s the “constant club versus country” argument. Clubs pay player salaries, relying on them to support the club’s winning ambitions (and thus commercial success) – but everyone wants to see the national team do well. The balance hasn’t been right for a long time (still isn’t) – and the result is that the national squad tend to improve dramatically over the duration of a tournament. They play several matches over a short period, train intensively together and as a result perform better as a unit. The perfect example would be the RWC2003 – and in most series since then, the improvement over a series has been demonstrable, even if it’s not been capped with a trophy.

Now we arrive at the point where I am qualified to comment: remote working. I worked for a company during 1999/2000 who chose to close my branch office. They wanted to keep me, I wanted to stay with them. All good. Their nearest office though, was not a realistic commute. It took some effort, but we eventually agreed a remote working plan which involved a couple of days a week in the office, the rest of the time at home (back in the days of 64k ISDN lines and home-working not being something a corporate tended to consider).

Since then, every role I’ve been in has had an element of working from home – and I’ve seen a lot of other people move into this kind of pattern too. It’s convenient, technology supports it, it’s greener, it supports work-life balance – we all know the arguments. Over the years, it’s become far more acceptable to all sorts of organisations. Long may it continue, I think it’s a great thing. The rub? It’s akin to the rugby – teams of people come together when really needed to work intensively together, then separate again. Sometimes they’re going to peak as a unit at just the right time – but more likely they’re going to struggle.

That first remote working experience of mine was probably one of the most successful. The company was nervous about doing it. I was keen but inexperienced. As a result, the working pattern was incredibly structured from the outset. A heavier level of reporting and management interaction than one might experience now. More focus on ensuring quality team interaction on the days when I was present in the office. The result of this wasn’t clear to me then, but it certainly is now. As a team, we didn’t just work as individuals, coming together for major events. The bonds were good, the communication was great and we were ready to front up to a challenge whenever it landed – we didn’t need time to get back into being a team.

As always, thoughts and comments welcome. Remote working is certainly here to stay, so let’s make sure it delivers trophies!

%d bloggers like this: