While the appeal of WebSummit was certainly there for Aidan O'Shea, Founder and CEO of Otonomee, a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) agency, he decided to stay in Cork, the company's HQ, and avoid the crowds. This careful approach to something as simple as a post-pandemic event sets the stage for what Otonomee does and why they do what they do.
Aidan told the IPBN, “In my world until 2019, I managed large numbers of people working in large centers in large cities in customer service, for example. It’s a competitive environment to find people, keep people, and house people. At one time I had 6,000 people working under me. I knew there was a need for change, at least for their sakes.”
According to Otonomee’s blog, the impetus to create an employee-centric culture came from the fact that Aidan understood the challenge for these large-center employees started from the beginning of the hiring process. “In some ways, they were sold a dream…however, in reality, they uprooted where they lived only to arrive in a strange city with problems of its own: no place to rent, no direct transport. A large city can house millions of people but can also be one of the loneliest of places to find yourself. Trust in how to perform your work, autonomy to choose where you worked, and flexibility to decide how you worked was non-existent.”
Aidan wanted to take another route to ease the burden on everyone involved. "We saw that people working from home for even part of the week would give us better access to a bigger talent pool. It would be good for business as a whole. It always seemed to be the perfect solution, in my opinion, but most businesses would not trust their people working from home. COVID proved the opposite was true.” Their website elaborates on this point, saying “…just because the pandemic had forced the hand of play did not mean that there was an acceptable business comfort about this new norm.”
At Otonomee, Aidan took the opportunity to fix some problems associated with working from home to the point that the company became 100% "geographically friendly.” Otonomee uses this term because the word "remote" insinuates that everyone is on their own, separated, alone, and not part of a team. At Otonomee, the opposite is again the truth.
In essence, this approach has been the driving factor in the company's success. “Smaller tech businesses find it hard to find and retain good candidates, so we offer that service to customers who are seeking access to those people in order for them to compete with the big global icons.”
On whether this business model will be the new norm, Aidan remarked, “It’s too early to say. The pandemic is not over and the world is still changing but this way of working is here for good. People are the biggest part of a business and we want our team to have the freedom to choose where and how they work while feeling trusted to do their jobs to the best of their ability. There’s certainly accountability expected in return, and that’s where the name Otonomee comes from — autonomy.”
While based in Ireland, Aidan has had Portugal on his horizons from a talent point of view for a while now. Portuguese tech talent has an incredible skill set that can be harnessed to the advantage of the employer, which is why Otonomee intends to hire about 75 people over the next two years who are based here in the burgeoning tech hub. While businesses are sure to benefit, Aidan is adamant that the employee experience is Otonomee’s main focus. “It’s a competitive market but we have a lot to offer [empolyees] as a company. We are building a new friendly culture in everything we do.”
Join COO of Otonomee Hilary O'Shea as she hosts an IPBN Master Class on Managing a Team in the New Hybrid Workplace on Thursday, Nov. 18 online. Registration is free of charge and still open here!