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Future of Work: Catherine Moriarty, HR director, Barretstown

‘There is nothing like face-to-face interaction to build your team... yet not having the commute to and from work gives great time back’

Catherine Moriarty: “it was quite an adjustment from a technology standpoint to holding all our meetings virtually”

Catherine Moriarty: “it was quite an adjustment from a technology standpoint to holding all our meetings virtually”

 

A busy household made the switch to home-working a challenge for Catherine Moriarty. “I initially found working from home a bit of a handful as I have four children (23, 15, 14 and 10) all of whom were home for the majority of the time, three home-schooling, one in college along with my husband who was also working from home.

“This was hard to juggle particularly with the primary home-schooling piece and even just the logistics of finding six places for us to work. This got much easier when the kids went back to school, and the house was quieter.”

There were other issues as well.

“Like everyone I found the virtual meetings a challenge initially as I was so used to getting up from my desk and interacting with people so frequently, heading to meetings and so on. However, there are some efficiencies to working from home with shorter meetings, minimal interruptions and very little overruns on meetings.”

And there were organisational changes to deal with.

“Covid has had a huge impact on what we do here at Barretstown. The biggest being that we had to close our gates to children and families affected by serious illness and stop delivering our therapeutic programmes from our site in Co Kildare. We could also no longer deliver our hospital and school outreach programmes.

“We had to work quickly to ensure we could continue to bring the magic of Barretstown safely into the homes of our campers. We worked together to develop a virtual alternative to our programmes, and in 12 days launched ‘Barretstown Live’, a new online interactive platform.

“We have continued to deliver online programmes through this channel, with our team quickly learning how to present live broadcasts, film recorded content and manage the production of each virtual programme.”

Three teams

She says staff were divided into three teams. “Our programme team were in lockdown on our site to deliver our virtual programmes, a skeleton team in the office and the majority of the team who had to work from home. It was a such big change for all staff as we needed to adapt quickly to new ways of working.

“Barretstown, like many organisations, was not set up for this, so it was quite an adjustment from a technology standpoint to holding all our meetings virtually. We worked with the team to understand what their needs were to ensure they had the correct equipment so they could be successful working from home.”

She would like to retain some of the positive aspects of the Covid-enforced changes.

“For me with a family and juggling work and kids’ priorities I certainly would like a mixture of the two. It is really important to have the engagement and connection at work, and there is nothing like face-to-face interaction to build your team. Not having the commute to and from work gives great time back, and allows me more flexibility.”