Life At Intouch: Remote Working

Life At Intouch is a blog series about the wonderful people that make Intouch.com successful.

The aim is to show what our team are passionate about outside of work. This week we have Retail Sales Director Seamus McHugh to talk through the reasons he chose to return to to his hometown and how remote working has improved his quality of life.

Where It All Began
I live in a small town called Carrigart in Donegal just 10 minutes from where I grew up. Situated in the northern part of the county it is a 3.5 hour drive (260km’s) to our Dublin office. In the early 2000’s I left and over the next decade or so found myself living in Dublin, London and Australia, finally moving home in late 2016.

Carrigart, Co Donegal

The Path To Returning Home
My wife is also from the area, with the arrival of our second child it was decision time. Living in Dublin at the time we were left with the decision to commit and buy a place in Dublin, or move back to Donegal. All those years we were away we always had the underlying thought of should we move home. The urge to do so was especially strong when you have children, as we weren’t from Dublin we didn’t really have a specific area to settle, not being from there meant there weren’t any strong ties to a specific area. With my eldest turning 4, schooling was a question that came up time and again, we understood what rural living had to offer, schooling system, and building a house so we decided to venture back home.

Tra Na Rossa Beach on the famous Atlantic Drive, Downings

The Flexibility & Freedom
Living close to family and friends is a major benefit of remote working, we currently live 5 minutes from the beach, there’s a lot of space and the quality of life for our children is amazing. The way of life is also much different, we don’t spend hours in the car everyday in gridlock traffic. We are currently building our dream home to our specifications, this is something we simply couldn’t do if based in a city like Dublin.

Benefits Of A Remote Team
While I do spend a few days a month in our Dublin office there are some great things I’ve noticed about working remotely. If everyone’s in the one office people can become entwined with the same mentality, there are two sides to this where it can be motivational and empowering but also can create an echo chamber. When you’re removed you can be somewhat impartial to whats happening in and around the office and you can have a more subjective views on things because you aren’t being influenced.

Another benefit is the people on the teams, when open to employing people with the best skillsets rather than those in a specific geographical location you find the best people for the job. Our team is spread out across the world, we have people in Egypt, Dubai, Toronto and the USA. Their outlooks can be different based on their experiences and diversity is very important. As we aren’t selling to people just in Ireland, having a team with different backgrounds allows us to have the ability to work with customers from different countries and cultures.

The Tools Needed For Success
In the summer of 2016 we moved home for 2 months as my wife was on maternity leave, I worked remotely at the time. The broadband was far from great at the time and I wasn’t sure how sustainable this was as without access to good internet speeds the concept of being remote will never work. Thankfully, that September there was improved infrastructure put in place in the area so from a technical perspective this meant there were no issues.

Video communication is a must, being able to see people is a great way to communicate, if all communication was done over Slack or even telephone it doesn’t give you that same emotional connection to people, adopting that as a company allows us to remain connected all around the world.

Arguably the most important requirement is colleagues having an open mind within the company itself, this must come from the top down in order to work. The concept of remote working is relatively new, employees all across the board must be open to the idea of colleagues dotted around the world. If there is somebody on the team who doesn’t believe in it, this can spread quickly among others in the office and create a negative attitude towards the concept. Thankfully at Intouch we all have bought into the idea and due to this we have the best possible team as opposed to the best team within a specific geography.

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