Getting To Know: Geoff Nash

Geoff is the Group General Manager of Brosnan Construction, they are Corporate Members and sponsors of the Club.

Where have you been during the lockdown and what did your ‘bubble’ look like?
Before New Zealand entered the Level 4 lockdown, we celebrated the wedding of my sister-in-law. With us were overseas visitors from Wales, who had taken up residence in our home to attend the family wedding. Little did we all realise that they were going to be with us for longer than we all expected. When the Level 4 lockdown was activated, the New Zealand borders were closed, and our guests were unable to return to their home country. Our visitors had no choice but to isolate themselves with us in our three-bedroom home in Auckland. This meant that our “bubble” now consisted of myself and my wife Jo, who is expecting our first baby, our two dogs, and our guests from Wales, which included their three young children. Let’s just say that it was a full house and a big adjustment to our usual routine.

Were you mostly working from home?
Yes. Amidst the chaos, I managed to set up a small office at home in the staircase hallway. I assumed this would be a quiet location for me to focus on the work that needed to be done. Very quickly this proved to be one of the busier, more lively spots in the house. However, I was soon immersed in my work, and was able to regain focus and block out the surrounding noise. I was ever so grateful for the mute function on MS Teams during online video meetings.

How did you manage this?
Working from home was an adjustment, although the traffic was much better on my daily commute to and from the “office”. Once the initial chaos subsided, I was able to focus on the work at hand. Blocking out the noise around me, the work ahead became clear and the pressure was on. It felt like I was in my work bubble within our home bubble. The first goal was to ensure that our team had all the necessary equipment to set themselves up at home. Keeping the lines of communication with staff open in times like these is important in maintaining professional relationships and encouragement of our colleagues.

Did you develop any new work/life habits that you’d like to continue?
No. I would not like to go back into lockdown. I prefer to see people face to face. I missed those passing office conversations in the hallways.

Any stories?
Not many stories to mention. I did, however, realise how much work one can get done when you have no other choice.  

What did you find the most difficult and what have you learnt from this?
Not being able to connect with people was the aspect I found most difficult to overcome. Conversations that would usually happen naturally within our office environment now suddenly required an appointment. I have learnt not to take those interactions with colleagues for granted.

What aspects of the lockdown did you enjoy?
Although sometimes frustrating, I enjoyed the challenge. Most of all I enjoyed having my wife, Jo with me every day, and spending time with her during the weeks leading up to the birth of our first baby.

How did you manage your staff?
Each department manager was responsible for their team. Our managers and staff rose to the challenge and supported the company during all decision making and changes. We are proud to say that during the lockdown and to date Brosnan has not had to make any positions redundant. Additionally, internal promotions and new developments are underway within the company. Exciting times lie ahead for Brosnan.

How did you manage Safety? Wellbeing?
In a short space of time, our Department Managers, along with our Group Health and Safety Manager, revised company policies and procedures. With every decision made, we had to consider the impact the changes would potentially have on various departments within the company. Our Health and Safety Manager communicated changes with staff members and kept everyone informed on how best to navigate the situation from a health and safety perspective. We were also ever mindful of the mental and emotional wellbeing of all our staff during this unprecedented event.

How did you manage Team morale?
From the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, our goal was to always keep our team well informed and involved in the process. The management team took extraordinary measures to ensure everyone’s safety while supporting the company and maintaining job stability for all our staff. We received numerous messages of support and encouragement from our team and we are grateful for their commitment and loyalty to the company through this challenging time. Although it has been a trying time for us all, we look towards a bright future and welcome the changes as we head back to normality.  

What has this meant for your business, when were you able to start operating again and has this required major changes?
Construction was one of the first industries to reopen in level 3. Significant changes were made in terms of operations, with these implemented within a short space of time. The closing down and then reopening of seventeen construction sites was no easy task. New procedures had to be followed, and safety plans had to be revised and approved. Our office environment has also changed significantly. This has meant we have had to reposition the layout of the office, ensuring that staff can safely return to the office, whilst maintaining the required social distancing procedures.

Do you think it will bring about any changes for the business and its operation going forward?
I have found that people are set in their ways and temporary disruption doesn’t always result in permanent change. In talking to colleagues and friends, my findings are that people just want to get back to normal. Work has an important role to play in the daily lives of most people, and although flexible to necessary change, the majority lean towards the familiar and are eager to get back to their routines. One colleague's words have stuck with me, “I can’t wait to get back to work, to get my life back”. Digital media and online meetings were one aspect that we utilised before the lockdown as we have team members in various regions. Going forward, I do believe we will continue to explore this further.

Any other insights?
I was encouraged to witness the way our staff embraced and dealt with this challenging situation. Our staff displayed unwavering support and commitment to the company and their work, all whilst navigating their own challenges such as home-schooling children, and social isolation from friends and family. I am looking forward to exciting times ahead, both personally and professionally, including the upcoming addition to our family, and the growth of our professional team.