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Working Remotely During Pandemic: Audio Interview

Working Remotely During a Pandemic


Robin Craig, Director of Cpl Technology speaks to Sean McCarthy who joined the Cpl team just 6 months before the shift from in-house to remote working.

In this interview, Sean describes the challenges he faced adapting to the changes of remote working and how Cpl helped him during that process.  

Click below to listen in full. 

Read a full transcript of the interview below. Please note this text was transcribed from the audio interview and has been slightly edited but may contain slight errors. 


 Robin Craig  

Hello there, my name is Robin Craig. I'm Director with Cpl Technology recruitment division and I manage our Perm recruitment team. I'm here with my colleague, Sean McCarthy, who's a member of our tech team.   

Hi Sean, would like to give a quick intro?  


 Sean McCarthy 

Hi, Robin. Yes, my name is Sean McCarthy. As Robin said, I work on the technology Perm recruitment team. I specialize in the infrastructure space. Basically, I cover IT support, Dev OPS, SRE, and network engineers. I joined Cpl in September 2019, so I was in the team six months when lockdown started here, in March 2020.  


 Robin Craig  

Great Sean, thanks, man. So just to give it one an overview. Sean and I will be discussing how the last year has gone and John is one of the more junior members of our team.   

I think it's insightful just to get an overview of what he liked about working from home, what he found challenging. We’ll also discuss the help and support Cpl gave Sean and the rest of our team during the last year to make things easier.   

Sean, if we bring you back to March 2020, can you tell us how your worklife balance and your work environment, changed overnight?  


 Sean McCarthy  

Yes, Robin. As you mentioned, I'm originally from Cork, so I was renting in Dublin. I only moved up to Dublin in September of 2019, so I was only up for maybe six months, and I was renting near Phoenix Park and commuting out to Sandyford each day.   

When COVID hit I relocated back home to West Cork, which is a small village. Literally 20 minutes from the nearest town. If I saw five or six cars on the trip, I might be saying it was a busy day, so it was a bit of a cultural shock, but it was a nice change.  


 Robin Craig  

Well, so very different you left the traffic and the commute in Dublin, and more importantly, the big monthly rental bills as well behind you.  


 Sean McCarthy  

Yes, definitely. It was nice from that front. I just started saving a lot of money straight away. I couldn't imagine kind of spending last year in the office or in the home office compared to what I have down here.  I was fortunate to get back.  


 Robin Craig  

Very different, poles and poles apart, you could say. Working from your Home Office in Glengarriff compared to the busy, bustling Sandyford Industrial estate, where the office was.  

Sean, if you look at things from a work point of view, how did things change from that time in March?  


 Sean McCarthy  

It seems so long ago now, but from January to March 2020, we were flying it. We had a very, very big pipeline. It looked like we kind of two or three months of work ahead of us. Many of our clients were under the illusion that all that it was going to be a one- or two-week thing, so everything went from briefly on hold to then being on hold long term.  

There was a kind of a transformation from being on like 100% delivery based, almost 100% business development, getting client engagement. On the upside of that, we had a lot of candidate engagement, but it was a difficult and unsure time for everyone really. It was a big change.  


 Robin Craig  

Very much, very much. You were traveling probably into that. Like we all say, it could have been a 360 recruiter very quickly from focusing on delivery, and getting roles filled, to suddenly then looking at engaging with clients and bringing more work.   

I know a lot of these changes are good, and give people different experiences, so hopefully in the long run it will be.   

And what did you find most difficult about that change, and how does Cpl support you?  


 Sean McCarthy  

I joined in September of 2019, as a graduate really, I had only six months of experience at that time. Within that six months, there's such an emphasis in Cpl on your own personal development. Getting to know the industry, getting to know your sector, and becoming a specialist in the area.  

The Senior Staff and the Directors in the company, really put their hand around me to kind of support me in that. I had been sitting in with the team meetings going out with colleagues to clients and sitting in on those interviews, so that had always been very beneficial.  

In the office, naturally, when people are working around you, you pick up those tips and tricks from people on the phone and different things that you can implement into your own role.  

It quickly changed a situation where I had to implement everything, I had learned from the office to a work-from-home environment, and there was no such thing as just reaching across the desk and asking you a quick question.  


 Robin Craig  

Very true, very true. I think that type of call “learning on the job” was gone, wasn't it? You know you very quickly had to implement what you soaked up and absorbed, and that 6-7 months while you were here, it was in a way showing that you're probably lucky, that you had that, at least you had that 6-7 month, but still it was a bit of a baptism of fire. How did Cpl support you then when that change happened?  


 Sean McCarthy  

We were fortunate enough in that. The Tech team was quite proactive, we were all up to date on Microsoft Teams prior to March of 2020, which was great.  

It seemed to be a lifesaver for everyone, really, from a Cpl point of view, there were regular meetings, put into the diary from very early on and from what I remember, we had to catch up, meet or we had a meeting at the start of the day to set out our goals and some tasks for the day.  

Then we had another wrap-up call in the evening where we shared the successes and the challenges that we were all facing.   

From a personal point of view, Cpl was great for the people on the team, who were home-schooling children, conscious about people taking their breaks, going out, getting some fresh air, having a clear peace of mind. With work it’s so easy, when you're at home, to immerse yourself into the laptop for the day, and you forget to step away.  


 Robin Craig  

I think Sean, you're right. I think there were a lot of people who were less fortunate than you that didn't make that quick move to relocate home and then trapped in apartments in town or living with friends but didn't get home to their families.   

I think in Cpl we’re very conscious of that and put a lot of supports in place around some of the non-work and support to people, as well. That was everything from having just meetings that were non-work related.   

We called them ‘Virtual Coffee Mornings’, ‘Quiz Nights’ in the evenings, some social events and also, as you said, Sean, that I think the really important thing was encouraging people for their mental wellbeing to stay fit and healthy.  

We had online ‘Lunchtime Pilates Classes’, online ‘Gym Classes’, there was ‘Cooking Classes’ in the evening and then we had a lot of fun. Kind of Inter-Team things like ‘Step Challenges’, TikTok video competitions, and as I said, a lot of other extra things which I think just made it, really. There's a lot of things people could engage with, so we're very lucky being in a company like Cpl who could provide all that, which was great.  

 I'm listening to you talking there, Sean. A lot of people will probably be jealous of you working in one of the most scenic places in Ireland. Can you give us a bit of paint to picture of where you live and some of the activities you got involved in the last 12 months to help you keep sane outside of work?  


 Sean McCarthy  

I think I've grown a so much greater appreciation for where I live over the last year. I know I'll never take it for granted again. 

I live in a place called Glengarrif from West Cork. A very small village with 1,500-2,000 people max. We're very fortunate that we're right beside the sea and then we have a lot of far street end as well, so I suppose I've always been big into sports.  

There was the option you could nearly go on a different trail in the forestry every day have a different change of scenery and then my brother set up a new business and throughout Covid he started fishing commercially for shellfish. He was doing a lobster, prawns, and shrimp.   

My mornings from five, 6 o'clock in the morning up until maybe half 8, quarter 9, before I started work going out on the boat, harvesting the fish with him, and then in the evenings I was prepping for the next day.  

I mean, all these things I would have taken for granted probably two years ago, but I suppose that it just allowed you to kind of step away from work, get out of the house, put away the laptop, and really switch off. I was really fortunate.  


 Robin Craig  

I think was really important, as you said, it's very easy to stay on your laptop, but for longer parts of the day, they're not actually working hours, and I think having that on your doorstep, it's been hugely beneficial.  

And tell me, Sean, did you go in swimming at all? And you know, in Dublin and around Dublin and other parts of the country, there was a big craze of sea swimming at all times of the year during the lockdown. 


 Sean McCarthy  

On many occasions, it was a couple of weeks apart until I built up the courage to go in again, up until the last couple of weeks. It was chilly, but I've made good use of it now since I've been home. 


 Robin Craig  

Very jealous. Brilliant, brilliant, that's great. So now I think you're making people very jealous of where you live. I think you've done a great job for Glengarrif tourist board earlier. You’ll get a lot of people looking at staycation's, calling into you during the summer.   

It was a really good chat, Sean. And I think we'll probably have another chat soon. I suppose the way work is going to the hybrid way of work in the future.  

Thanks a million, Sean, I really enjoyed it and people could give us a like and share it. I think it's good just to share the experiences of people over the last year, but thank you very much, Sean.  


 Sean McCarthy  

Great, thanks, Robin.  


If you’re an employer looking for ideas on how to keep morale up during remote working, check out our blog, which is updated weekly.  

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