employee spotlight: developer talking about virtual working and team building

Engineering a design thinking dream

Ben didn’t always know he’d be the one behind the screen, pulling together code strings to create entirely new systems people could use. He simply knew that he loved video games and the process of building them.

By age 12, he programmed games on his RM Nimbus 286 at school. Classroom workstations popularised these personal computers throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Although the RM Nimbus gave him a good starting point to learn programming, even at his young age, he knew he needed more.

“I persuaded my mum to order me an Atari ST from the Freemans catalogue which I paid for with money from my paper round,” Ben recalls fondly. It wasn’t long before he was hooked on making games and applications in STOS BASIC, a legacy programming language designed for game-building.

Ben knows his history with programming software has both humble & nostalgic origins. “[I’m] showing my age here,” he jokingly admits while recounting his software development background.

“After studying computing at university, I moved to Barcelona where I got involved in the travel industry building online booking systems,” he explains. From travel to healthcare transitions, Ben honed his skill set and eventually moved back to England with his wife and two kids. A relationship with Axis began soon after.

Joining a small team with a monumental dream.

Before Ben started, Axis’s team called a small office in a condemned London Bridge building home. “I remember when Paul and Danny, [our founders], showed me the rough and ready prototype for the very first time,” he shares. “Axis was a tiny team working out of an office the size of a cupboard.”

Ben describes the magic of the momentum they generated together. Not only did Axis’s concept intrigue him, but its founders’ clear strategy for success drew him in. “The founders had such a clarity of vision of what Axis could become,” he continues. “It seemed like such a terrific adventure; I was determined to be part of it.”

Since that eager introduction, Axis has grown in size and industry stature. Today, Axis’s meeting productivity tool meets thousands of expert meeting facilitation hours with the latest in consumer behaviour to service top consulting firms in and around the UK.

Ben often thinks of those humble beginnings, but his enthusiasm hasn’t wavered. “I still get excited about where we are going with the platform.”

Managing the virtual workload from home.

As a working parent, the pandemic brought Ben into new situations that required a keen balance between parenting and career-building—all from home. “At first, [I ran into] the usual challenges working parents faced with schools closed and homeschooling,” he notes.

Despite those challenges, Ben found ways to be present and add more physical activity into his day-to-day routine. “During the first lockdown, the weather was really nice and we would go to the field behind our house every day after work for an hour of exercise,” he explains. Ben enjoyed a bit of natural sunlight and warmth in his day. “I remember thinking how much more pleasant that was than being stuck on a train.”

Being used to a physical workplace, he had questions about remote working and its impact on the team. With intuitive digital tools at their fingertips, including Axis's own software, they quickly overcame communication barriers.

Since the pandemic’s start, Axis’s development side has grown immensely. When in-person gathering restrictions relaxed, making his first face-to-face impressions with colleagues floored Ben. “It was slightly surreal when we all met up for the first time,” he recounts.

Nurturing better relationships with more free time.

Having a family in tow, working from home provided Ben with more benefits than working in the office. Now Ben has more freedom and leisure time to strengthen his relationships. In Ben’s own words: “No commute, more family time!”

Pre-pandemic, he commuted over an hour each way to Axis’s physical office. Trading in morning school drop-offs and bedtime stories for early meetings and travel became normal (and necessary). “Now I am not tired all the time. I get to drop the children off at school in the morning. Plus, I eat a lot better,” he adds.

The physical office’s open floorplan had its distractions. These days, his working time benefits from the virtual environment. “Meetings are much more efficient. Just hop on a Zoom call,” Ben explains. “No more trying to find an empty room and wasting 10-15 minutes hooking up laptops to big screens.”

Ben also drums in his free time—a hobby that’s become an unorthodox stress-reduction practice during the workday. “I can just bash on my drums for 10 minutes to clear my head if I want to,” he muses. “I don’t think that would go down well in an office.”

A workplace culture that works for everyone.

When Ben adds up the virtual working perks, his team holds a top place on his list. A common thread amongst Axis employees rings true: their deep appreciation for the company culture. Ben’s no different in this aspect. “We really do have a fantastic team,” he remarks.

Working on Axis’s engineering side doesn’t ever get boring. Ben appreciates that his teammates love a good puzzle and their work offers plenty of problem-solving and critical thinking opportunities.

“We have some really juicy technical problems to sink our teeth into,” he says with deep pride for his team. “I know my really quite clever colleagues will always rise to the challenge.”

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