Total Football: A footballing philosophy synonymous with the legendary Dutch teams of the 1970s. Its creative style has long influenced the sport, and has inspired Jed too…

Jed Gardner, Project Director, UK Fit Out 24 June 2021

Jed Gardner, Project Director, London, UK

Total Football: A footballing philosophy synonymous with the legendary Dutch teams of the 1970s. Its creative style has long influenced the sport, and has inspired Jed too…

Made popular by Dutch football giants, Ajax, in the early 1970s, Total Football is a playing style in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team.

Considered by many to be the ultimate way to play, Total Football is built on versatility, creativity, and speed of thought. An avid football fan, Jed recognises the merits of a style that has influenced the game for well over a century, its artistry touching football everywhere from Argentina to Holland.

Jed applies Total Football principles to his role as project director at ISG, taking pride in creating a dynamic team that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Just as Jed’s passion for football and teamwork has influenced his work, he was also influenced by his father, an architect, who taught him to rethink the world around him – a trait that has led to Jed’s moniker as the ‘ideas machine’. Renowned for striving for innovation, efficiency, and doing things a little bit differently, ISG is the perfect home for him.

Like the Dutch teams of Total Football fame, Jed’s inventive approach is reaping new rewards in the fit out world.

Jed Gardner, Project Director, London, UK

Growing up, Jed was always involved in sport, developing an understanding of what it meant to be part of a team. From rugby to football, he understood from an early age the importance of tenacity, discipline and teamwork, a mentality which ultimately laid the foundations for a successful career. “Sport teaches us development,” explains Jed. “It helps us learn resilience, leadership, accountability, respect and patience.”

Total Football – a philosophy famously pioneered by Dutch side, Ajax, and the Netherlands’ national team in the 1960s and 70s – is based on the concept that any player can assume the role of any other on the pitch. While the organisational structure remains in place, a fluid, dynamic style enables every player to feed off each other, creating a team greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Drawing inspiration from Total Football, and as project director for ISG’s UK Fit Out business, Jed coined the phrase ‘Total Fit Out’ as a play on words to describe the unique way his team champion teamwork, flexibility, and empower each other to succeed. “No one works for me – we all work together,” he says.

“Sport teaches us development. It helps us learn resilience, leadership, accountability, respect and patience.”

- Jed Gardner, Project Director

Jed pours his energy into developing a strong team ethic and camaraderie, valuing communication in getting everyone on board with team goals and understanding their individual roles in the collective vision. Jed explains that, on the construction site, information sharing is vital to ensuring everyone has the tools to do their jobs well, see the bigger picture, and meet client need.

Going back a few years, Jed arrived in London with a suitcase and £20 in his pocket, borrowing a suit from his father for his first construction interview. Before making his way to the big smoke, he worked his way up, starting as a labourer. He had a quick stint in Idaho, USA, building log cabins, gathering technical construction experience, and getting to grips with the physical side of it too. 

The spell stood him in good stead, and back on home turf Jed was offered his first role as a construction manager. Now, with nearly 30 years’ fit out experience, he is proud to be working on some of ISG’s most prestigious projects to date.

Jed Gardner, Project Director, London, UK

One of the most recent saw Jed oversee a challenging 13-floor office fit out in a 32-storey new build for world-leading law firm, Freshfields – a project which had only just begun at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working through difficult times, the team has delivered a state-of-the-art workspace which encapsulates wellness, encourages healthy working and provides a setting where people can connect, socialise, and do their best work. 

Jed attributes success on the project to an ingrained culture of collaboration and teamwork. From a personal standpoint, his ability to think differently about the world around him, a trait he learnt from his father, was integral.

Jed’s father, an architect, would complete site surveys by measuring gridlines. Inspired by the technique, and as part of his approach to understanding space and client need prior to setting foot on site, Jed and his team completed detailed site surveys to make sure no stone was left unturned – giving ISG an edge in driving the project execution programme.

“No one works for me – we all work together. I want my entire team to be leaders.”

- Jed Gardner, Project Director

The project team also harnessed the technological power of modern software, such as 3D-laser scanning, to produce as-built 3D BIM models. Accurate modelling led to fast procurement, right-first-time installation, programme assurance and quality installation.

With the rise of technology and a drive towards paperless construction sites, the team adopted QR codes in all key spaces of the fit out to assist ISG’s supply chain with installation and visualisation. Integrated BIM collaboration software platform, Revitzo, was used to maximise project timelines throughout the construction phase, enabling teams to virtually build and view all project data within a single platform, while centralising communication. 

Keeping pace with customer need requires flexibility and dynamic thinking. Delivered during COVID-19, the team was under pressure to think decisively and react effectively, going above and beyond to ensure the project was as safe as possible. Over 400 operatives were on site every day before the pandemic began, so the team had to think outside the box to reduce numbers – collaborating with its supply chain to introduce safety measures that would keep the project moving ahead in difficult circumstances.

Frank Bruno

Using industry guidance from the Construction Leadership Council, and basing its approach around best practice, the team created over 57,000sq ft of welfare space. Over 200 cellular offices were used as makeshift changing rooms and canteen spaces for people on site, a commitment to care which was pivotal to the successful outcome.

COVID-19 also brought the importance of wellbeing into focus, and Jed set about prioritising physical and mental wellbeing on site. Showing the commitment to wellness on the project, Jed organised for British boxing legend, Frank Bruno, to visit and share his experiences with mental health. Frank told his humbling story, touching on his background and mental health journey, which the team found to be incredibly enlightening.

As times evolve, those that embrace change give themselves a real advantage – just like the teams of Total Football fame, Jed and his team continue to think differently, breaking the norm in search of new ground and better results.

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