Call it an effect of the pandemic, but many forward-thinking employers have found that having their staff working from home, or giving them a greater level of autonomy, has yielded better results for the company.
A study published last month, conducted by Stanford University in California, has shown this to be the case with a sample size of 16,000 employees over a nine-month period.
The findings were instructive. Productivity increased by 13%. Workers were able to conduct more tasks in a convenient working environment. There were fewer sick days and employees took fewer breaks.
Another survey from ConnectSolutions found that 77% of those who work remotely at least a few times per month showed increased productivity with 30% doing more work in less time and 24% doing more work in the same period of time.
What the pandemic has done for many is cut out the grind of the office commute. Some employers prefer to have their workers under their nose, but in a lot of cases that is met with a feeling of distrust and employees max out on their coffee and lunch breaks, while opportunities for office chatter and gossip is a huge time vampire.
The world of sport is no different. Trends are constantly changing.
To make it hyper-local, the advent of secondary grammar education and University scholarships has transformed the expectations of people towards education. Few would dispute that the average inter-county panel is more educated than was the case when current managers were playing.
As a result, some teams – though not all – enjoy a relationship with team management where they are active participants in team discussions on tactical approaches.
We got the first clear sense of this in Brian Corcoran’s autobiography ‘Every Single Ball’ released in November 2006, when he delved into Cork hurling team discussions with managers where they identified the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opposition teams.
That approach yielded two All-Ireland titles for Cork in 2004 and 2005.
Now, that approach was not for everyone. Kilkenny were their major rivals at the time and after Cork’s brace, they went on to win seven of the next eight Liam MacCarthy Cup titles. And their management, even now, is a top-down model with long-serving manager Brian Cody maintaining distance from his players.
When Donegal started winning Ulster football titles and an All-Ireland at the start of the last decade, the relationship between players and management was one of a clear line of authority. That was most vividly illustrated by a passage in Rory Kavanagh’s book ‘Winning’ that revealed the team management of Jim McGuinness and Rory Gallagher would give players handouts and ask them to rate aspects of their own performance out of five. They would then review the answers the players gave, occasionally showing embarrassing video footage of the game to prove them wrong.
Bring it to the modern day, and the league game in which Tyrone shipped 4-22 against Kerry in the National League that sent alarm bells ringing. The journey they have been on since has brought them to this Saturday’s Ulster final against Monaghan and it has not been without a measure of soul searching.
In the backroom, which Tyrone player Frank Burns admitted after the Donegal game is a significantly bigger circle than Mickey Harte kept, there is perhaps a surprising lack of inter-county management experience.
Feargal Logan, along with joint manager Brian Dooher, had three years at Under-21 level and nothing at senior.
The physical trainer Peter Donnelly had been involved with Tyrone and for a single season Monaghan before switching back.
Joe McMahon had one year coaching Fermanagh alongside Ryan McMenamin, and Collie Holmes, while experienced in the Tyrone underage ranks, had not been in with a senior county team either.
And so, Logan was big enough to admit that they sought counsel from senior players to plot the way forward. It’s not how things used to be, but it’s certainly a far more invested, mature and healthy state of affairs.
“To be fair, a lot of them are seasoned campaigners and they weren’t panicking,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody hit the panic button, but they knew that we needed to tighten things up at the back, No.1. And the players nowadays, it’s very interactive and slightly different from our days with big Art McRory, who was one of Tyrone’s biggest servants.
“Not that Art wouldn’t have listened to all of your views as well, but it’s a very collaborative approach to Gaelic football nowadays, even at club level now. Players have their opinions, everyone has good thoughts on things nowadays so the players give us their thoughts, we give them our thoughts and we try to dig the best out of each other.”
With greater autonomy and input from players, they have been rewarded with better performances.
Some insecure managers would see such a process as a threat to their authority. The best ones know otherwise.