FINDING A WAY | Despite the many challenges caused by the pandemic, colleagues across A.P. Moller - Maersk still find ways to connect and support each other - whether stuck at sea or isolated at home.
During the past year, many of us have been working from home in self-isolation without a clear end in sight – and facing very different circumstances.
Closed schools and daycares force parents to juggle work obligations with childcare in a confined space, while others are feeling the solitude, being completely cut off from family and friends at sea.
A marathon at sea
For the many colleagues who work at sea, the pandemic has meant longer shifts without knowing when they would be able to return home to their families.
“In the beginning, all my colleagues, including myself, were filled with high hopes that we would get back home soon. But as weeks turned into months, we realised that this was going to be a true marathon,” says Jyothirmai Koka, third officer, adding that almost 25% of her crew were at sea for more than 11 months.
“Life at sea has always been both an adventure and a struggle. You are far away from your loved ones and the entertainment brought by civilization – all the things that keep you sane,” she explains.
“You always prepare mentally for this, but when the pandemic hit it brought a whole new level to the mental challenges. It is hard to accept not knowing when you will go home, when you were supposed to be home already.”
Still, she thinks that the crew onboard did a solid job in taking care of this situation.
“What motivated me the most was the care and sense of belonging from management towards the crew, including the focus on wellbeing and encouraging activities. These efforts kept us strong and motivated throughout the tough times,” says Jyothirmai.
Balancing work and childcare – a mother’s diary
How do you balance a fulltime job with taking care of toddlers? Rachel Galli, Sales Excellence Analyst for A.P. Moller – Maersk in Italy was one of many parents faced with this challenge. You can read some of her reflections in this diary entry.
It’s been more than a year working from home and I can honestly say that I’m grateful for the support and understanding from management and my wonderful team of colleagues, as well as from colleagues around the world.
Working at home with a preschooler and a toddler is... well, it’s not easy. Sanity depended on organisation and trying to tap into even a portion of the resilience and adaptability that our kids showed. It’s hard to believe that during the harshest lockdown they didn’t leave our apartment for 52 days straight… and barely batted an eye!
While school and daycare were closed last year my husband and I tried to alternate workdays where possible, though we still had many days where we were both working while the kids were at home. On these days we would plan what activities the kids could do, based on our meeting schedules and how autonomous they needed to be.
Where possible, I organised my time and tasks specifically around when I would be working with the kids.
After calls, it became habit to do a quick scan (ignoring the inevitably increasing mess) to check on the kids before the next meeting. Bathroom/nappy change? Food? Water? New activity? Cuddle?
We soon learnt that the easiest way to ensure perhaps 30 mins of quiet time for a meeting was to put out a giant snack plate and full water bottles for the kids a couple of minutes before dialing in.
I learnt to work wherever made sense at the time. The kitchen table, the kids’ drawing table, sometimes even an actual desk (though perhaps with a kid or two on my lap).
My favorite became turning the windowsill on the balcony into a standing desk so we could get some fresh air and enjoy the lovely sunshine we luckily had during the worst of the lockdown.
Afternoons were challenging if Isabella wasn’t keen for a nap. (Luckily the baby carrier works on two-year-olds too!) And we’ll just ignore the amount of additional screen time Leo had so I could enjoy a couple of hours of quiet work time...
Now our kids are back in school and daycare. In some ways I miss the extra time with them but on the other hand, I really want the schools and daycare to stay open… fingers crossed!