As far as we’re concerned, the Eurozone crisis that started in 2009 had one upside – it brought us senior network engineer Rafael Marti.

A gifted technician from Valencia, Spain, Rafael came to the UK when the Spanish economy was at its lowest ebb. He joined Firstline IT and soon revealed himself to be a superb network engineer whose expertise extended to VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and hosted systems.

The only problem was that he missed his family – and probably the sunshine. How could we tempt him to stay in Oxford?

The answer was that we didn’t even try. We’re always talking about how technology can facilitate remote working – this was another chance for us to put it into action.

So Rafael now spends approximately half the year in Oxford, and half in Spain. He rents a room in the UK over the summer but makes sure he’s back home for Christmas. We can talk to him easily on the phone (through VOIP, naturally) and connect in many different ways through different computer systems.

Even when he’s in Spain, Rafael operates just as if he is in Oxford. He manages the whole communications room and infrastructure. On the rare occasions that a button needs to be pressed or some other physical task has to be done, he simply tells one of the other engineers what to do. Otherwise, he is always available as a ‘back-end guru’ and support mechanism, answering any tricky technical questions that stymie the rest of the team.

As Operations Director John Crozier says: ‘Rafael doing his thing is good for the business. If he’s happy, we know he’ll be there and do whatever needs to be done. So our task is to keep him happy.’ In fact, John’s only complaint is that he can’t persuade Rafael to join Facebook and connect with the Firstline IT team group … yet.