• Plassey Business Campus

Resilience in Challenging Times

As we look forward to easing out of lockdowns and getting back to the office, we caught up with three business leaders from across our Plassey Business Campus in Limerick to discover how they maintained resilience through the last year, managed employee wellbeing and how they plan to adapt to a new model of working. Our valued friends included:

  • Gabriel Cosgrave - Xperi General Manager EMEA, Australia and New Zealand and Head of Global Business Operations
  • Catherine Duffy - Northern Trust Senior Vice President and General Manager
  • Paul Newton - QAD Senior Director 

Sharing experience - employee wellbeing during Covid-19

Xperi worked hard to ensure its employees’ wellbeing through a year that has been incredibly challenging. Xperi’s General Manager of EMEA, Australia and New Zealand, Gabriel Cosgrave commented: “How you treat employees in times like these makes all the difference. What we’re seeing is that productivity levels are good but we’re mindful of burnout and mental health concerns.”

To address these challenges, Xperi launched a range of supports. Gabriel went on to say, “We created an employee wellbeing plan that included education and training on what it means to work virtually. The plan worked to create a strong sense of work-life balance, ergonomic office setups, and maintaining engagement through virtual coffees and fitness programs where teams competed against each other. We run regular social events that we outsource to external companies to do fun things like murder mysteries. We make them family-friendly so that kids can come in and sit on your knee while you’re doing them if needs be.”

Through its comprehensive efforts, Xperi has aimed to ensure that while productivity remains high, its employees’ physical and mental wellbeing is catered for just as it would be if they were in the office.

As a financial service, Northern Trust is considered an essential service, but only about 60 of its 1,400 strong staff are in the office. The management team divided the workforce into waves based on how necessary it was for them to be in the office. For example, the taxation group has to do everything by post, so that team is required to be in the office, while others are able to work from home full-time.

Catherine Duffy, Northern Trust’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, said, “I’m really grateful to all of the staff. They mobilised really well to work from home. We worked with people to get desks, chairs and laptops home to make it easier to set up home offices. Lockdown one and two worked well this way, but through lockdown three we have found people are keen to get back to the office - the last has definitely been harder.”

Since the pandemic, the QAD team has been working from home and has felt a major impact in terms of collaboration. Paul Newton, QAD’s Senior Director commented: “You miss going into a meeting room with a whiteboard and handing a marker back and forth as you discuss an idea - there’s really only so much you can do over the phone. We’re looking forward to getting back to that.”

“You also lose the human touch. In the office, you know more immediately when something is wrong on a project or in someone’s personal life and you can go for a cup of tea or a walk around the block.”

QAD has allowed employees to take their office desks and chairs home so they can get set up properly. The move has been popular, but Paul has noticed that people are working longer hours as it’s harder to switch off at home when the laptop is always there. The company has aimed to keep up some of that human connection through virtual drinks on a Friday evening and having deliveries with goodies sent to their employees’ homes, but Paul has a sense that people are keen to get back to the office.

Adapting to “the new normal”

As remote working continues and the return to work will likely center on a hybrid approach, at Fine Grain Property we were interested to find out our partners’ views on the topic, particularly as we consider our renewed approach across our properties to best serve our partners.

When asked about how Covid has changed where we work, Gabriel from Xperi added, “Covid has brought the conversation to the hybrid model of working from home and travelling to the office. There are some roles that can be flexible, but there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Our engineers will always need labs and white space, so a top-class facility like those we have with Fine Grain Property in Limerick and Galway will always be required even if people are doing a day or two a week at home.”

According to Catherine, Northern Trust “will likely be developing hybrid or flexible working arrangements for the future, but it’s clear to us that lots of people will want to be in the office, a top-class environment created and brought to life by Fine Grain Property.”

Despite adapting well to remote working, Paul and the QAD team are looking forward to returning to their offices and enjoying their new facilities redeveloped by Fine Grain Property.

Providing a top class environment that supports our partners with their workplace wellbeing and employee engagement goals is vital to what we do. We are proud to celebrate how they navigated an extremely challenging year and we look forward to continually building success for them well into the future.

To learn more about Fine Grain Property’s wellness and employee engagement programme, check out our latest blog,