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Activity Based Working with James Newson

Luke Szyrmer August 13, 2020 35


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available on Mural.co

About James Newson

James grew up in rural Taranaki, New Zealand. He left the farming life to travel the world and now lives in the UK with his wife, three kids and an oversized rescue dog. He got into technology by doing a vocational Microsoft course and worked his way up to project management. And there he started a niche IT consultancy called SansomIT that specializes in delivering outsourcing and flexible working projects.

Transcript


Luke: before all this hit, , how would you describe what you do , for companies, , at Samsung city? 

James Newson:  so broadly,  the main function of sense of it. when I stood up and created, it was to, , help businesses partner with the best it service providers based on their needs , so help them select the right partner. We transitioned them to help them with the transition project and also provide ongoing support sort of vendor management support,  should they need it. , but we’ve sort of transitioned,  from doing that sort of work.  and it started about three years ago.

With, when businesses,  with activity based working projects. helping them with the it deliverables that make their staff more flexible, , and can work remotely, , and adopt, , new sort of new working cultures and behaviors. 

 and so that started, you know, there’s sort of digital workplace technologies, , and remote working, , looking very much at the desktop,  and bringing forward, you know, space management technologies as well.

, so we’ve sort of slowly transitioned across,  I’ve got three different projects I’m sort of wrapping at well, , going on at the same time. And one’s very much traditionally , , renewing, , an existing customer where there’s existing it service provider and doing the old, , traditional sense of mighty work, but also helping a customer transition to activity based working.

Luke: how are you defining activity based working?  I know the term activity based costing from an accounting perspective, but  what does activity based working mean? 

James Newson: So activity based working, , really it’s about, , offering, , different working spaces for your employees to work in.

So it’s no longer just an allocated desk per person, and you squeeze as many desks into a space as you can. And therefore squeeze as many people into the space as you can. it’s all about providing, best working environments, the right sort of meeting rooms and meeting environments. and sort of open collaboration spaces where you can, you know, get up and take your team off to a table somewhere and, and collaborate and, or, you know, or sit in a quiet space and have a one to one with a colleague.

so it’s, it’s really putting the responsibility back on the employee to say, you’re in charge of your day. You choose a space where you want to work from. and these are the spaces you’ve got. So it helps businesses, by being smarter with space, it helps them reduce  the amount of floor space they’ve got.

so should you do it correctly? It should reduce your, your, your state costs. 

Okay, interesting. a lot of this depends on exactly, How do you define productivity? I guess? how do you think about that when you’re designing a collaboration space?

the only reason I can see for moving to activity based working is you want to make. your environment much more efficient, so easier for your staff to work in, make them happier in that space. because  it’s so more fit for purpose. It gives them what they need. and therefore the outcome of that should make them more productive. give them that space where they can get together and they can exchange ideas, then they can go back and do that deep work. You know, that when you sit down first thing in the morning and they required space and everything that’s in your head comes out.

I think the whole productivity piece  is the key. If you can’t make your staff more productive. then you really got to question why you’re, while you’re undertaking the project.

Luke: so in terms of, managing the space itself, is it. Like, do you think about it in terms of like density of desks or, I mean, what other, what other kind of things do you look at in particular? 

James Newson: so it’s really up to the customer, and, and it’s, boils down to, to, their requirements.

if you look at, Some businesses have, you know, that there’s a general inertia to, to, to transitioning to that sort of, environment because they are a very traditional business, you know, and, you know, I haven’t done that much work in the legal sectors, but, legal services, but, you know, legal houses generally, you know, quite traditional financial services, we’ve done better work in that, that the generally quite traditional in their approach, you know, and it’s moving them out of transitioning them out of that traditional sort of mindset to a new, flexible sort of way of working and try and, You know, not obviously jolt them out of it.

So, but try and take them on a journey that, that moves them into that new, that new mindset. 

so every business is different. and the requirements from a staff perspective change as well. So, you know, they might have teams that are very static. and in some cases, you know, broadly that they’re going to always sit in the same spot and they’re going to have the same,  you might not lower the amount of desks. By much, but then you have other, apartments or other, other businesses that are transient by nature and have a lot of sales staff or a lot of traveling staff. And so they’re, therefore then you’ve got a bit more freedom to, to reduce desks. So, and to, look at the other spaces that could be catered to them.

and, So it’s really, there’s no, competence customer level. how far they can push it, you know? the idea that you lose your fixed desk can be, a bit of a shock to a lot of staff, and how far can you push that concept? Businesses have varying comfort zones.

Luke: in terms of this transition out of the traditional mindset, this is something that I’ve certainly seen also.  how do you think about that  when you’re on a project, basically, maybe not necessarily at the beginning. how do you do that?

 Oh, so I’ve been very lucky. I’ve always worked with, sort of change specialists, and you know, you get a change or change consultant. Who’s done it before. Yeah. And they’re very good at, at working with, With staff on a,  on their sort of level. and, bringing them out on the journey that says, you’re gonna lose your desk. You’re going to lose access to the paper you’ve got around you. your storage is going to change , you’re going to have to go to a locker and collect your stuff in the morning  you know, 

I’m a, an it project manager by, by trade. and I like to get things done.

So, I’ve had to learn to listen, I think is, and working with the change teams, there’s a really good approach that you can take, you have to be patient.  the concept where you bring. People on a journey and they transitioned from, from a to B, but it’s not just moving from a, to B in a single day, it’s getting prepared.

It’s the right messaging. and the stuff like that. And with, with new technology, there’s always the training and the adjustments and, you know, the process changes and stuff like that. Yeah. So, you know, that there’s a, there’s some time, a lot to get yeah. For the normal. I’m working colleague who just wants to get on and do their job.

That transition is there’s a lot, a lot to be picked up and understood. because. Let’s face it for most people, moving to a new desktop environment, moving to a new it tool like teams or something like that, or, or adopting a new, room booking system is not particularly high on their priority list. the, these guys are finance guys and  they look at spreadsheets. they’re worried about numbers,  they’re busy people.  Listening and don’t drop them in it. That’s probably the best advice I can give. 

Yeah. Yeah.  can you think of a particular case where you changed a  workflow, your team area, and it really helps them. Work together better. I mean, how does, how does that work? 

James Newson: Well, I mean, one of the most radical changes we did, was we, we moved, whole head office, about 350 odd people to activity waste working at the same time as we did an office move. which is quite a good time in some ways, but it’s just a lot of work as I found out.

we moved them from a very, sort of legacy office set up in terms of the technology. And in terms of the setup of the office itself, it was very, siloed. There was an old building. It was horrible. The roof leaked. It was terrible. so I came to work one day and I only just started and there was water everywhere, and half the floor was off. So I had to go and sit there and work somewhere else. so I mean, it was, you couldn’t write it actually. and so we moved out lot, from a, very horrible, traditional based work environment and to a very open plan where I laid out, office space. and we had variable, working environments there. So we had, meeting rooms, reduce the number of meeting rooms, but smaller meeting rooms with, sort of Polycomm equipment  very flexible. So you could, you could just slide your laptop in, and then you can start a teams meeting or a, or a Skype meeting. and you know, we bought forward, room booking as well, an environment or that, And so of course, some quite major changes. we had sort of open plan meeting rooms with a TV, just a TV for collaboration. And we just had that wireless technology. So you just sit your laptop down, you select the TV, put in your pin code, and then you can start sharing your content on, on the, on the television. So, you know, relatively basic stuff and in the grand scheme of things.

but yeah, The transition was, actually went very well. and the, the go live day, it wasn’t without problems. There was a few, few things that came up. but, they moved to that already moved to a new desktop environment. And so as soon as they walked into the new office, they could sit down and work. 

The big concern from everyone was desks.  Was there going to be enough desks? and the second rule was the changing your monitor settings. So every time you sit in a new desk, because you’re hotdesking your monitor settings change. By the end of the morning of day two, that issue was with the chief executive. By end of day three, that issue had completely gone because everyone had changed their monitor settings three times. And now you had to do it.

we did  warn them, and  they knew it was coming. also about at day three that people started getting used to the difference in spaces  what was, activity based working really was. and they just naturally started migrating throughout the office into the different working spaces. 

, the way I felt we’d put in with training, and stuff like that. before we moved, paid off because, they were booking, there was there’s very little, Very little issues with the room booking system. we’d, we’d, we’d covered that before they’d moved.

there was literature, in the rooms, telling me how to use equipment. and, we transitioned to a new it service provider at the same time. but we had floor walking staff in there. As well, so that, that covered a lot of the, the pain points for, for the staff and it wasn’t perfect, but you know, that that’s.

That transition from a very siloed, very old office, very traditional working, was pretty much successful within about three days of landing in the new office, open plan office and had that been through the change process that been through training elements and they adapted actually very, very well to the new environment.

Luke: do you know how their working patterns changed communication patterns?  what kind of company was this, by the way? 

James Newson: So they are an internet services company, a government services company. yeah, I mean, so I always say that comes from the technology lens.

so, looking how they’re adopting technology, is, is, is why I sort of see it. And so there’s enough, like Microsoft teams that we. That was just come out. I put that on the desktop and that has been utilized very, very well, within the organization. So people, would remote with the new desktop design.

we’d gone with a always on VPN solution. so that means that soon as you are, on an internet connection, a VPN forms in the background, on your laptop and connects you back to the data center and to your resources that you need. So people had a huge amount of flexibility that they didn’t have, within the old office environment, the old desktop built.

So, They’re encouraged to, if they were going to work, what works I’m home. If they needed to, you know, work from home, if you can, if you want needed, if you’re on sales  you need to rather than come into the office for 10 minutes and then go out, which, you know, go and go to a coffee shop somewhere and do some work and then go to the, the appointment, that sort of thing.

so there was less, you know, trying to reduce that time and transit. for, for staff members and, and give them the comfort and the tools they need to work remotely. so that went quite well and it helped. So if you have the right people on board and you get the desktop build, right. Okay. And that gave the organization a huge amount of flexibility.

So, they started working downstairs in the nice coffee shop and stuff like that. As well. So if you ever wanted to find anyone, you couldn’t see them on the floor, but you knew they were in the office. There was a, a nice coffee shop in the building that had a good internet connection and you’d have to pop down and find them down there.

so yeah, I think the, the flexibility to work, it was a big, big positive. and what’s the, I guess the, Just the, you know, the smaller stuff. you don’t need to book a meeting room for everything. You know, you can just migrate to the open space and if you’ve got a TV there that you can collaborate on, you know, just if that, just move over there and, get your colleagues and, get around, you know, talk through whatever, whatever the problems are you’ve got and, you know, get together and problem solve and collaborate face to face.

And, you know, that’s, that’s obviously gonna be an issue now for the foreseeable future,  meeting rooms specifically for more confidential discussions or, well, you need that, that WebEx or that, that sort of, video conferencing functionality. 

Luke:  how much of their, workforce was remote, like outside of that particular?

James Newson: So there was quite a lot of, it was actually remote workers splashed around the organization. some of them internationally as well, specifically home-based remote workers. so. I can’t remember. It wasn’t that many, maybe less than a hundred, I think. so we had to make specific arrangements for, for getting equipment out to them.

 it was very unusual that they would be in the office. Whereas, for majority of staff, it was very generally unusual. That’d be after the office, but they were starting to work from home more often. 

Luke: I’m curious about teams specifically. was this company using any type of IRC chat type thing before? Or was it just linked so far? 

James Newson: Yeah, it was, yeah. So Skype for business link. I think that, Microsoft, How, so I guess that, that needs a lot of Microsoft products. I know that transitioned through from, Lincoln Skype for business and to, to teams  I think teams is in itself is quite a good tool.

it’s. easy to use, and, integrates seamlessly in with your Microsoft office three 65 environment. It’s all there. it’s quite simple to use and set up, about can be made difficult.  And then teams is not the only tool out there that does that. Slack is a good tool, that there’s loads of them out there that are sort of coming through. 

But if you’re gonna move to activity based working, if you’re going to change your office environment, traditionally people are used to setting in the same desk. They’ve got the same four colleagues or six colleagues or whatever it is they have around them. And they’re probably there for a good reason because they work closely together. so they need to facilitate, they have that. Communication. I see the power at the desk, or did you hear this? Can you do this? You know, they can have those conversations really, really seamlessly, and they have that connection with each other.

 as you move to activity based working, you sort of breaking apart, those, those connections. because you’re encouraging people to set where you need to set for the day, you know, but I’m going to do a bunch of work with the finance department today. I’ll just grab my laptop and I’ll go and sit by the guys I need to work with and we’ll get a bunch of stuff done. so you kind of breaking those. Those connections. And it’s, it’s hard on people. One company I went with that, that didn’t a lot of them had worked there for 10 plus years that sat amongst each other for, you know, all that time.

And now I was coming in saying, no, no, no, we’re going to move to hot desking or flexible working or activity based working. And, you know, they saw those partnerships and those relationships being, pulled apart. So while there’s no way to prevent that, you told like teams, helps people stay connected, and it’s raw as format.

it’s a simple tool. You can chat online. you can push a button and then we can connect and speak with each other and see each other on the video. And it’s not the same, obviously, and it’s not as good as, as, if you and I were sitting there working day in, day out together, and the same. The same spot, but it does help bridge that gap.

And I think it’s very important that, and it’s not so much from a communication space, you know, from a shared workspace, with the collaboration features, you know, having that, that space, that you can dump a bunch of documentation or you can dump a bunch of updates and you and your team can say it, and work on stuff together, you know, While it’s not the same as being in the office together. It’s not the same as having a whiteboard and, you know, writing up all your staff and, and know working together. It  it’s something that helps facilitate, that like working together, I think is probably the, the best, the thing where you can explain it, you know, something that helps facilitate keeping you connected.

Keeping that team spirit to, to some degree going, even though,  half the guys are working from different locations or sat in different locations around the building for the day. it’s an important part of, I think, important parts of teamwork. as I look at it, and, and being a project manager and so you go into different environments. That team ethos is very, very important. you know. 

People don’t just work for each other just because they’ve got the same logo on their chest. teams are built over time.  they have a lot of shared experiences. and that’s why changing can be difficult when we’re changing how a team works. you’ve got to find ways to keep  that spirit and that ethos and that over everything good about a team. You’ve got to find a way to help facilitate that.  and  MSTeams are just one as a small step in and trying to do that when you’re working in separate locations .

Luke: Yeah. I’m really trying to pay attention lately to like tools and techniques and workflow. that’s almost like the work environment on your own personal setup. obviously it’s not like physical space, but it’s almost like the digital space and how you interact and how easy it is interacting. these little details about, the button being right in a very handy place, ends up actually being quite, relevant. 

James Newson:  So social media. Yeah. I’ve, I’ve got a habit of exploding on social media. Sometimes if I’m in a bad mood, I have been known to hit the keyboard and hit send, and then going off God, did I say that?

Yeah. But it’s a, yeah, it’s a dangerous mechanism of communication. 

Luke: We started talking about the current circumstances? Like, what are your thoughts about organizing workspaces and in companies and personal ones?

James Newson: I guess, too. Yeah. So COVID-19 is really shaking things up. it’s a bit of a tough, tough time to, to be trying to work because you know, a lot, a lot of industries are getting trashed right now. and there are some people that, are, coping and I’m lucky enough that the moment that I’ve got enough work to keep me going, for the short term future.

some businesses get ready getting hammered, and you know, this goes on for. A long period of time, it’s going to get very, very difficult, for, for businesses to keep going. but I think, for the ones who can keep going, I, the why I’ve been looking at it and I had a long conversation with a client yesterday about this.

it’s really, when, when is your office going to open up again? when our organization is going to allow staff back into the office, now I assume foot for the, to allow staff back in the office and the current climate, you’re going to have to be socially distancing.

So you’re not going to be able to add all, allow all staff back in. you’re going to have to say these people are that the people who for personal reasons can’t work from home, or, you know, then you’re going to have to. I’m coming to the office and you’ll come into the office under the circumstances and you know, that the rules would apply.

so there’s big discussions going in around hygiene, you know, for instance, should you be sharing desks? That’s one, should you be sharing keyboards, and mice. and there’s some really interesting, debate because, hygiene is about cleaning as well. So if you’ve got a, your own desk back and it’s still got all your own papers and stuff like that, then it’s going to be very, very difficult environment to claim.

So for those who organizations that don’t work in the Clare desk environment, if you’re thinking you’re going to have people back in the office, you might want to consider going around and clearing off the desks that are going to be in used. Get him clean as clean as you can possibly get them.

And then, you know, then the, the debates around if they’re shared or if they’re not, well, people have their own keyboards and mice and stuff like that. So wireless options that you, you have a keyboard, a mouse that you keep for yourself, and then you just go and hook it up to you, your machine, and that sort of the base are all to be had.

 there’s that interim period, but at some point this is going to end. and, the businesses organizations are going to encouraging people who’ve probably climatized to working from home, got their office set up. Right. you know, and those who had the right tools available from the technology perspective,  the people like me are quite comfortable at working from home.

we don’t necessarily need to be in a, in a team 24 seven. then you’ve got encouraged those guys back to the office at some point. And assuming that the social distancing measures have changed, and that you, you it’s back to relatively back to normal. And I think that environment is going to change quite a bit.

I think that’s that trend from, everyone socially distancing. And then there’s that sort of interim pace, short term, very short term. suddenly people. We’ve got more flexibility. They understand they don’t need the paper. They understand that they can work using teams or other collaboration tools.

You know, they’re ready. They’re pushing those at the moment cause they have to, yeah. Yeah. , the office could change. I think attitudes could change as well. And it’s hard to sort of estimate what that how profound that change will be at this at this point. So, where I see a big change, you know, is it going to, is it going to be the norm that all the office is in all your team is in the office together on the same days?

Probably not. Probably going to be the exception that you have to say, right? Let’s get everyone organized to be in the office on this day, so we can churn through this work and, or we’ve got an event or something like that. It was a team building exercise. So that’s going to put more dependence on the, video conferencing type solutions because,  if you’re going for your, your daily stand up.

And to be honest, I would always advise actually as a first stand up to everyone to be in the office. Cause, otherwise a standup doesn’t really work.  if you’re gonna have a standup or, something like that, you know, Chances are, or you’re going to have a team meeting with someone important stuff coming down from, from management.

Chances are, you’re not going to have everyone in the office. So you’re going to need a big room, or you’re going to room with video conferencing. Everyone’s going to need to sit at their desk and do video and video conference and have the conversation. So there’s going to be a huge, I think, more and more dependence put on those sorts of technologies.

and I think organizations will have to be looking at, therefore space in general. And how that’s going to and how that’s been utilized. so say if, on average, a third of the, your office is out, you know, there’s a third of the space that’s, that’s disappeared that you could do other stuff with, that might change what you go and what you look for in your next office.

so understanding, how space has been utilized. I think it’d be quite important. so that, that concept of occupancy monitoring, I know it’s not popular. bye bye. For colleagues or staff, because they don’t like the idea of being monitored, but understanding how floor space has been utilized. Central London floor space is quite expensive.

if it’s not being utilized and you can shrink what, you’re your operations and you can shrink what you’re doing by adopting flexible working. strategies and, you know, using, using technology to help you understand your requirements. And then, you know, the organizations posts private might find themselves with smaller London floor space, so less floor space in London, maybe augmenting that, with, we work tight office spaces and stuff like that.

 there could be a transition that way. so, you know, you want to encourage people to be in the office as well. 

Luke: why though? I’m just playing devil’s advocate, I guess, but I mean, yeah. Why necessarily. 

James Newson:  I think we’re going to have to like, get a crowbar in under some people and to get them yeah.  Of the house, me being, me being one of them, I go into the office. I have to go to train in and I’ve got to go through  all the covert hotspots to get into the office.  just going back to the point of, of why, when you work at home, actually working at home can be, very siloed .

You sort of get in your way, it’s not the most collaborative, you, you like that, Tapping someone on the shoulder having a quick conversation, seeing someone in the hallway and go, Oh, actually I do need to speak to, you,  you like that interaction. And I think some of those interactions are very positive and quite important.

and it’s easy to get set in your ways. so I think. To have a, a, an office space that’s when you go to it and when you get there, you know, get out of bed early, get your, try and get it. You know, it meets your needs. you’ve got the different areas. You’ve, you know, it’s easy to book a meeting room.

I can book a meeting room on my mobile, if I have to.  if I need to book a desk, I can book a desk. You know, if, you know, there’s a right facilities there. I know how to use the video conferencing equipment because it’s straightforward. It’s been well thought out. Well, plans that the meeting room facilities that are what I need. then as a, as a staff member, you’re going to go there. You’re going to be. I’m happier. You’re going to be more efficient because you’ve booked what you’ve needed to do. You’ve got organized for your day that you’re in the office. and I think that’ll make you more productive.

and I think people are going to need that encouragement.  from a, from a business perspective, you want people to want to work there. You want people you want to retain like your, your talented individuals that, may make your business, what it is. And, if you’re not giving them an environment that they are going to be.

Happier in and they’re going to be efficient in and giving them the tools from a technology perspective from a, a workplace management perspective then, I think, there’s a good chance that they’ll sort of look around, put their head up and look around for something better. so, encouragement I think is, is probably the correct term, but it may not be, Hmm.

Luke: Yeah. I mean, a I’m kind of in the same boat as you. I mean, I’ve, I’ve worked from home for a while and worked in an office for a while and,  even before COVID and,  I’m just still struggling a little bit with,  where actually is better.  For me personally.

James Newson:  we were quite lucky I think. And, and let me know if this is not accurate, but right. You know, I think we, we have our sort of our own business. we have a certain amount of autonomy and flexibility when we’re working with clients. so I think from, from that perspective, you know, we, we kind of have the option to choose where you work.

And I’m not sure that those are more permanent members. People have more permanent jobs. and I’m not sure they have that flexibility, to, to make a choice. You know, it depends on who they’re working for. and then, you know, that they just find that, that the manager says, or the, the boss, whoever it is says, you know, you’re in the office.

For these times and you know, the whole team’s in the office, that’s sort of it. and some industries do do that.  I like the best of both worlds. I do like the team environment. I do like, when you’re going into a project,  getting a team together, working together, going in, seeing people, solving problems on the white board, getting into the, you know, but then also, , that nice working from home where you kitchen’s just out the door there, you can go and see the kids. if you, if you’re having a tough time, , you can take the dog for a walk, Then that’s also a big positive. but unfortunately you don’t get the, well, you can’t dig it the best of both worlds if you, if you split it up correctly, but you know, when you’re in the office and you’ve got to catch the train and,  it’s a big day.

Luke: do you have any thoughts about  organizing personal workspaces at home? when you’re, especially under the current conditions? 

James Newson: Yeah, I sympathize, I think there’s, there’s a lot of people who are doing it tough. and it’s not easy.

It depends on your personal situation. if, you’ve got kids in a small central London flat, if you’re a single parent, or you’re, you’re married and both parents are trying to work and you’ve got limited space to work from. And then you’ve got kids around,  I assume those people are going to be really wanting to get back to the office. I think those are very difficult circumstances. you might be quite senior and you’ve got a lot of responsibility at work. and you know, other people. Or in a better situation than you so they can allocate more time. 

 the physical aspect of it as well. you don’t have the right chair. You don’t have the right desk, your back sore your next, or, you can’t work hard enough because you’re busy and, you know, you’ve, you’ve got to stop and go for a walk and try and relax yourself.

so I think it’s very, very difficult on the calm circumstances, for, for a lot of people, Again, because I work from home regularly. I sort of set up a space for working from home. I mean, it’s not the perfect office as you can see behind me. it’s a bit of work, but, I’ve got a desk that that’s fine.

I’ve got like, like a bracket that I stepped my laptop up on and stand it up and then use my wireless keyboard and mouse. And,  that’s makes a huge difference to my posture. And it’s made a big difference to working from home for me. those simple things of, of ordering a wireless keyboard, a mouse, get your laptop, stand standard up and make it higher.

and that, that, that will help. but if you’re in the wrong, if you haven’t got the right facility yeah. And your house and your house, you’ve got loads of kids and you know, other, other, you know, you might have other stuff, not just kids. yeah. I think the working from home dynamic at the moment, it must be very, very tricky and very trying on patients, especially if you’ve got a stressful job.

There’s no doubt about it. 

Luke: I’m kind of the same as you. I ended up getting a standing desk because of the back issues. 

James Newson: Right. Are really good about, I mean, I’ve never really used them that much, but apparently they’re very, very good.

Luke: Yeah. I mean, it’s good. the one I have for my key, I put it, I can put it down to like normal sitting position if I want, but I usually just spend most of the day standing actually. and, just have more energy later.

James Newson: So yeah. It’s good for your posture as well. 

Luke: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

James Newson: just to reiterate that people’s needs or all differ. and it’s very easy to get in that mindset that, you just get your laptop and you go and work from home. but personal, if you’re at home by yourself all the time. Anyway. for whatever reason, or we don’t want to sit at home for days on days and not see anyone or not work with your team, you know, you want to be in the office.

so, and then the physical aspects, not having the facilities, having sore backs, you know, too many distractions and it’s very, very tough on some people. 

Luke: one more thing I still wanted to ask about teams that are distributed. it’s one thing to talk about the office in London, but then, I was on a team of like 30 people that were distributed  quite broadly. do you have any thoughts or perspectives on that might be useful? 

James Newson: Yeah. they said different, different sort of time zones and countries spread out. Yeah from a technology perspective, those are relatively easy to solve. As you know, although some environments are very complex.

but if you’re on this logically in the same organization, those problems are, an easy to resolve. Those are when you’ve got, different organizations coming together. But you want to have a shared, like, Fabrication environments, then acting, you know, a, your environment with our environment, can be a bit tricky and can need a little bit of thoughts to go into the security aspects around that.

So, one thing I did with a, an it partner that I worked with quite closely is. We, we sort of federated our teams environments together. So my, my team’s environment could connect with theirs and I could contact them on teams and we had shared workspaces together, then we’d work on stuff. So that bridge, that gap a little bit, it made it easier for us to work together.

so those shared collaboration tool set I think is, is, is quite important, but then you’ve got the logistics. Oh, working together. and, communication,  is something that I’ve had to work on for a long time. how much attention I pay and listen to other people , and then, try and understand the world from their perspective as well, rather than,  just being the project manager.

Sort of walks in and we’ve got this to do and get on and do it,  when you’ve got other cultures, who’ve got different time zones. you’ve got the accent, that change makes,  sometimes when you’re working with people yeah. From abroad, you know, And the, if you’re having a, an intense conversation,  there’s a pressure on, on the team for whatever reason, , comprehending what they’re telling you with the accent, with their understanding of, of English and then their baseline on their culture as well, because you know how they view, via communication based on, on, on, on, on their culture is very, might be very different from, from the English culture as it might be from, from Polish culture.

So, even though you’ve got the technology that can give you a shared workspace that can help you communicate. Just understanding each other and what you’re telling each other. it can be very difficult even, even with all that together, you know, good practices like, No a good team. Spirit always helps.

you know, fostering that, that environment where you can get stuff raised without getting your head bitten off. If you’re giving bad news, you don’t shoot the messenger. You know, just the basics like that, really helps. And you can have all the technology in the world, and it can be wide. As you’d perfectly as you wish, but if you’ve got those, you don’t get those basics.

Right. Of working internationally, working, collaborative D then you know, you’ll fall over. and I’ve, I’ve had that problem in the past. I’ve had to learn from it. yeah, I mean, yeah. 

Luke: I suspect everybody has. Yeah. no, it is,

James Newson:  There’s a, there’s a really good book actually. And I can’t remember the author that I read and it was all about international communities and how they communicate. (The Culture Map by Erin Meyer)

from a business lens and my wife bought it for me. So it must’ve been swearing, about how badly things were going. So suddenly I got, I got it in, in my Christmas. There was this book about communication and the international, from other perspective about the cultures. So. it’s well recommended.

I don’t have to find it for you and put in the comments. 

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. okay, great. I wanted to ask, so if, if somebody wanted to. Get started, get in touch with you.  how would they do that if they were interested in, in, an, a project now? is there anything in particular that you want to?

Yeah, , it was a few things I’m doing actually, I’m a little bit of a crossroads, to be honest, the, the way the sort of world changing, So I’m working with some, some guys potentially standing up a, a consultancy. that’s gonna, Try and revolutionized, Mo moving workloads into, cloud services.

and the idea is to make it, cheaper, basically, but much more efficient. so it’s a  difficult conundrum to, to break. but, so there’s more about it in the near future, actually. but, Which is exciting. but also I’m still. worked very much on helping businesses, with either their finding their, it partners, you know, transforming their it environment to something that they need.

and, enhancing the working space for their staff members. and, it’s, it’s, the, the RTO world now is. It’s been rocked. and there’s going to be a lot of in the business world has been, there’s gonna, there’s gonna be a lot of change coming. No, one’s really sure what that change might look like.

We’ve all got that varies. And so it’s when the dust settles. I think it’d be a lot of work to be done, to get businesses, start up again, help them out, help reduce costs to help them be more, more efficient so they can.   get to work better. there’s going to be some, some casualties out there, unfortunately.

basically what you would kind of want to be here to help. But, so if anyone was to get in contact with me, SansomIT is  my, website. SansomIT.com. 

I’m also on LinkedIn. so James Newson, I think James  at SansomIT on LinkedIn. and then there’s just James at Sansom IT dot com. and that’s my email address.

Luke: Okay, great. it’s been a pleasure . Thank you very much for hopping on. 

James Newson:  I appreciate it. Luke. It’s good to meet up.

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