Continuing with our series - Has Covid-19 given businesses a push to make change! Please welcome Clair Daly, Head of People at Quintain Ireland to share her insightful thoughts.

 byLorraine Bolger.
 Published: 04/08/2020

Working from home, which, if done right, has the potential to advance work-life balances. This new way of working is more flexible — a benefit we need to maintain for sure, but we must not miss this opportunity to pass us by without reflecting on what we have learnt about ourselves and our businesses.

After four months of lockdown and as we make plans to return to our offices where possible what nuggets of information and new strengths will we bring with us!

Clair Daly, Head of People at Quintain Ireland shares her insightful thoughts on the subject:

What have been the two biggest challenges?

We were very fortunate with the technology we invested in when we launched the Company last year. This allowed the Company’s smooth transition to WFH with little or no planning and made us realise how agile we were/are as an organisation because it did not disrupt our deliverables.

The biggest challenge for me and those around me was switching off in the evenings. Our days were filled with online meetings and we all noticed an increase in our workload. We could no longer rely on a face to face conversation and calls were set up to have the conversations that would happen naturally in the office.Another challenge was trying to separate our private lives from our working lives; a child getting dressed in the background is not a good look on a video conference or a child waking up from a nightmare at 9 am in the morning is not a good sound when you’re on a call to your Joint Managing Partners.  

If any what have been the two most positive?

This experience has opened our eyes to a whole new way of working, who would have thought that we could all work from home so successfully and quickly without a project team planning and executing this move. We all left the office with our laptops on Friday the 13th March for fear of a lockdown, staff were informed that Sunday that we were closing the office and on Monday we were on a Teams meeting speaking of the office closure. I still cannot believe the speed of this decision making and the successful implementation of WFH for our team. 

Another positive was WFH and realising how productive one can be. I personally have always chosen to work in an office and did not avail of this option in the past but now that I have tried it and can see the benefits, I will definitely be availing of this option going forward just not on a full-time basis. For me, you cannot beat the human to human connection and the positives that come with interacting and socialising with your colleagues in an office setting. 

What factors feature in your business now that did not feature three months ago

Teams. Prior to lockdown even though we had the technology in place, I don’t believe anyone had used this application for calls/meetings as we were relying on traditional formats. Now Teams is part of our everyday operations and we would be lost without it. It allowed us to continue working as normal during the lockdown period and introduced new ways of working.

We hired a number of individuals during lockdown via Teams and onboarded a number of employees successfully during this time. One such employee mentioned that onboarding was a positive experience because they didn’t have the first-day jitters because they started their new role in the comfort of their own home and when we returned to the office they had already built relationships with their peers so they didn’t feel like a ‘newbie’ when they finally met their colleagues in person.  

What would you like to see happening in the next few months?

A vaccine & that all school-aged children will return to school full time in September.

On a serious note; we have already phased employees back to the office and are nearly 5 weeks in. At the start everyone had some anxiety about returning to work; be it childcare issues, public transport but once we resolved these concerns, very quickly people relaxed into the newfound environment we find ourselves in. It’s our everyday normal to check our temperatures and sign in every morning. The new protocols in the office have become second nature to us and everyone is enjoying the blend of working from home & working from the office and the lack of traffic means much shorter commutes for our people.

What I would like to see; that everyone takes a breath and recognises the rollercoaster of emotions and the journey we’ve been on even to get here. Bottle the positives and learn from the negatives. We have adapted to a new way of living, not to mind working and I think it would be an awful shame to try and return to our old ways without learning from this (crazy) experience.