Welcoming Gavin O’Brien, Chief People Officer at Teamwork with his valuable insights on - Has Covid-19 given businesses a push to make change!

 byLorraine Bolger.
 Published: 01/10/2020

Has Covid-19 given businesses a push to make change!
 
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!
 
Gavin O'Brien, Chief People Officer at Teamwork shares his valuable insights on the subject
 
As we experiment with new ways of working, leaders have the opportunity to rewrite the playbook, what would you rewrite!
 
I think the last 6 months have demonstrated that as people we are very resilient, we can manage the unpredictable, we can adapt to difficult circumstances and get business back up and running again.  It has been very difficult for many businesses with many scaled back or that have completely closed and the full longer-term effects on the economy may not be fully understood at this point.   In determining a new work paradigm, trust is the key element underpinning how a future work model will work or not.
 
What have been the two biggest challenges?
 
Personally, I find it a big challenge working in the HR field and not being able to meet people face to face.  Trust is built up with people through talking, sharing, and listening to each other.  In the current circumstances, not having the opportunity to meet people face to face means that the incidental chats are gone and opportunities to catch up are gone.   The second challenge for me is maintaining the morale of the team through online connectivity.  We are doing this through daily calls with each team, one to one meeting with staff and a weekly video call with the whole company.  We also had added in some fun activities, mindfulness sessions, exercise programmes, quizzes, and competitions, which all help.
 
If any what have been the two most positive?
 
I think that this period has helped to break up norms and introduce a total re-think in how work gets done.  This has helped shift the balance of power regarding the choice to work from home more or remotely more away from the employer more to the individual employee.  
 
This last 6 months has proved that the vast majority of jobs can be effectively carried out remotely.    I think these last 6 months have also allowed people to re-evaluate what is actually important, and what provides meaning in their lives and spending more time at home with family has been a bonus.
 
 
What factors feature in your business now that did not feature three months ago?
 
Our operations at Teamwork have always worked well through using our own products to keep our staff connected.  We have 250 staff across 18 countries and keeping connected has been a real focus for us to maintain our close community within the Company.  We have team meetings or stand-ups now every day which has worked well in keeping the sense of loneliness and isolation to a minimum.  Obviously, our offices in Cork, Limerick, Belfast, Amsterdam, and Barcelona have been closed.  Our offices are kitted out to the highest standards to enable collaborative working, we have a fun-filled bright and spacious workplace that is both relaxing and functional.  

Like many businesses this integral part of our culture is no longer in use, our community centred work culture has taken a big dent as a result.  We have risen to the challenge in other ways to maintain, build and sustain our values-based culture to keep the sense of community. We have been very creative through weekly online team events, that focus on the psychological wellbeing as well the social wellbeing.  We have utilised the services of a Clinical Psychotherapist, adopted company-wide exercise programmes, mindfulness sessions to help our staff through the time we are apart.
 
What would you like to see happening in the next few months?
 
I think we all want to see the virus brought under control to ensure that we sustain a healthy nation.  The second thing is to see businesses opening again, and people returning to work in offices again.  For those who want to work from home or indeed who choose a hybrid work model of combining the office and home that this is fully welcomed across the business sector.
 
If we all do the right thing, we can all be together again soon with nobody missing!