New ways of working at Pramerica
PRAMERICA, the largest
employer in Donegal, saw just 1-2 per cent of their
employees working at the Letterkenny campus during
the Covid-19 lockdown. With more than 1,650
employees, that meant hundreds of their staff have
worked from home these last three months.
The campus was made available on short notice for
staff if they had a connectivity problem but Shane
Grant, Director of Facilities, said the numbers of
people who used the campus remained fairly steady at
only 1 to 2 per cent.
In addition, Pramerica only paused recruitment for
two weeks during the lockdown, then began to hire
staff remotely, sending applicants online
applications that provided a remote experience of
the work and meeting with them through the company’s
own video platform.
The company closed their small satellite premises in
Buncrana, Donegal town and Gaoth Dobhair for the
lockdown because of the difficulty in managing
social distancing there.
Pramerica campus in Letterkenny, Co
Overall, Shane said,
only about a dozen Pramerica staff could not manage
working at home due to connectivity issues.
He sees the new way of working as a massive
game-changer. Staff developed more autonomy in the
lockdown, adapting their hours to get their work
done while managing home and family
responsibilities. For example, because Pramerica’s
parent company, Prudential, is headquartered in
Newark, New Jersey, that meant local employees could
start work earlier in the morning, before their own
family demands on broadband increased.
Shane has a weekly online call with about 50
managers, “and from day dot there hasn’t been an
issue. That’s down to the employees themselves,” he
said. The success of video meetings also means that
Donegal employees will not have to travel to Newark
as often as they had in the past for meetings.
Pramerica will follow government protocols in terms
of returning to the Letterkenny campus, and will
also reduce campus capacity by two-thirds before
then. That means nearly 1,500 desks on the campus
will be reduced to about 500, to allow for social
A survey Pramerica took of its employees recently
indicated staff would support the new arrangement:
Out of about 1,400 respondents, only 92 people said
they wanted to return to the office full time.
“It’s not the end of big campuses, but you have to
change the way you operate,” Shane said. “Why can’t
you work from home three days a week, and come in
for collaboration and the social aspects of it? Then
we’ve got the best of both worlds.”
The move to remote working can also be good news for
rural areas like Donegal, he said, particularly
given the housing and transportation costs in big
cities, and other benefits of rural living that the