LOCKDOWN BUSINESS: Wokingham-based mediation company GMS goes global during covid

LAUNCHED: John Hayes set up his mediation company, GMS, during lockdown and has enjoyed success thanks to virtual working

AFTER taking a “leap of faith” and launching his own business during lockdown, John Hayes is never looking back.

GMS is a Wokingham-based mediation company, specialising in dispute avoidance for construction businesses while also offering advice and support for business owners, as well as training programmes.

It was launched by John in 2016, who, after working in construction for more than 30 years, wanted to take control of his own destiny.

“For a few years, GMS tinkered away in the background and I purely acted as a mediator,” he explained.

“Then, when the pandemic hit and lockdown came in, a lot more businesses were having a lot more problems.

“So with my training I had a business model ready to go which was purely coincidental.”

Mr Hayes said it may have been “bonkers” to jump into a new business on a full-time basis during the pandemic, but it was the right decision for him.

It gave him an opportunity to be in charge of his career, and he said the emotional benefits have been outstanding.

Mr Hayes said the pandemic definitely taught him a thing or two about business in the modern world.

“I kind of missed the IT revolution – it happened in my mid-30s,” the company founder explained.

“I would just rather train people and deal with problems face-to-face, but because of the virus I’ve had to do it all online.

“Over the last six months, I’ve now trained around 150 people and if you told me pre-pandemic I’d be doing it all by Teams, I would have laughed,” he added.

Not only that, by harnessing the power of the internet, Mr Hayes has been able to work with people across the globe without leaving his office.

“I recently gave a lecture over in the United States, and I worked with an Irish company based in Sligo too,” he said.

“I don’t have to pack my bags, get on a plane and book a hotel; it’s very efficient.”

The company founder said his only regret is not doing it all sooner.

And Mr Hayes’ top tip for anybody running a similar business from home is to take it slow.

“I’ve had to adapt to the pandemic by incorporating a lot more breaks in my days,” he explained.

“Instead of starting at 9am and finishing at 4pm, I might start at 10am and finish at 3pm with a lot more breaks in between.

“When working with other people who are at home, they need to be sure that they can grab a cup of tea, check their emails, go for a run and do everything in between while staying on top of their work.”

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