The term remote work is described as mobile, flexible, agile, and location-independent work. Due to the pandemic we all faced since 2020, most of us means working from home.
If we go deep in the meaning, we had remote work at all times but not so structured and demanding. All of us had work after office hours due to our work's nature, picking up telephones, texting in mobiles, and collaborating through any means available. In the maritime world, after office hours are within the nature of teleworking.
The technology advancements, the new technologies offered, and the pandemic's hit alternated the way of working and thinking. Suddenly we found out that a digital workplace was the emerging need for all of us.
Most companies that were not digitalized needed to find various cloud tools to collaborate and work in a remote environment. The most sophisticated ones have already been prepared throughout the last decades.
Types of Remote Work
We have noticed that remote work has various types. The most common are:
Home-Based Remote Work
The job landscape has changed, and the home becomes the employee’s office. High need of home and office integration is needed and is an alternative job environment.
Alternative Remote Work
The employee partially works from home, visits the office premises, and works from the office station.
Agile Remote Work
The definition of agile is about bringing people, processes, connectivity, technology, time, and place to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines and timelines but without boundaries.
Partial Remote Work
The employee depending on the job specialization, needs few hours to be in the office and could do the rest hours from home.
The home-based remote work is attainable for operators, managers, and departmental heads to coordinate their teams. The alternative remote work is attainable by most employees, and the agile remote work is attainable for restructurers, business development, and cross-functional team members. The partial remote work is mainly accounting and support staff positions.
However, in a working environment, all remote workers need to meet, socialize, and interact and “feel their identity.” Apart from the meetings that could be completed through “zoom, teams, skype or any other teleconference mean,” the maritime world should constantly build the cultivation of interpersonal and multicultural relations within these times of pandemic. The social environment has changed since 2020, and the job landscape has altered across countries and cultures. Remote work is the future but without the elimination of the human factor and the human relations.
Working Remotely: An opportunity during COVID-19
The coronavirus outbreak gave a lesson that things sometimes should be changed at a faster pace. There were unprecedented challenges in the maritime industry, especially to the true economy of shipping. Many companies globally had to turn to remote work, and they did not have any other option. Although technical requirements and IT literacy were available for some time, they did not allow any further resistance to inelastic in tech nature companies.
When it comes to health issues and the risk of infection, protecting the human factor should always be a priority. The initial challenge was e-collaboration! Collaboration tools in existence but not in use by most maritime companies had a fast boost because there was no other choice.
Thus, a baptism was made to the most resistant to change personalities and seemed an opportunity during COVID-19.
Lockdown Continues: Life Continues Online
Continuous lockdowns held the momentum of learning how to work remotely. Every crisis presents opportunities and in the maritime sector brought a wave of the need for digitalization. Online e-learning substituted training centers, office recruitments shifted to e-recruitments, visits became series of teleconferences, and collaboration requested more focus on data and specially structured data, which is the information.
The maritime industry made a digital step due to continuous lockdowns and the changing job landscape.
Many maritime companies faced coronavirus infection within the premises; fears and worries from the employees' side and social contact became a threat to the most. While schools were closed due to the lockdowns, childcare and nursing care became a big issue for most parents, disrupting them from their daily work and putting pressure on them.
Those companies that kept the most employees at work or at least 50% in teleworking should have implemented preventive measures to slow down the spread of the virus and acknowledge and try to moderate the employees' worries and focus on their employees' private-family needs priorities.
From a legal standpoint, employees do not have an inherent right to work from home, based on today's legislation. In Greece, it was a governmental imposition that 50% of the personnel should work from home. On the other hand, the employees cannot be forced to work from home. Directives to be placed by the management do not constitute a sufficient basis for mandating remote work. Finally, the employer has a duty of care towards their employees and must consider any threat associated with the employee's presence in the workplace.
Data Protection and Cybersecurity
The rapid transition to remote work is not without risk. Taking the time to take the necessary precautions is of utmost importance.
Elvictor has invested since 2001 in the development of in-house software systems and, having managed to upgrade them to cloud ecosystems, has gained time to take the necessary precautions proactively.
Concerning data protection and cybersecurity, Elvictor's cloud system is dependent on the latest technological advances of the cloud ecosystems that it uses, which have embedded the latest state-of-the-art security patches and possess the tip-top infrastructure for GDPR and data protection.
These cloud technologies that Elvictor uses and has developed its cloud ecosystem are the cloud technologies used by global conglomerates and developed by conglomerates like, for example, Facebook (REACT programming ecosystem).
Elvictor was proactive enough to “inject” the work methods and processes into its cloud system to succeed in remote collaboration by developing a series of intranet cloud tools to keep communication, interaction, and process management under control and compliance. Elvictor has developed a cloud culture and remote work environment in the last two decades. The new technological advances and cloud architectures are embraced with confidence by all parties involved in the human resource management and recruitment operations.
All processes, procedures, compliance, and control to every stage are logged, filed, and communicated. This digitalization focus and structure enables Elvictor’s employees to have a thorough outlook of their daily operations proactively, pending items, and tasks that they need to perform. Still, at the same time, this applies to all parties, including Elvictor’s customers.
That ends up in positive agile teamwork; and global multifunctional teams that perform varying tasks, even concurrent, guided by Elvictor’s cloud ecosystem and with ease achieve effective and well-structured operations. The cloud-based and agile-teams style mindset acknowledges a social interaction in the overall recruitment process, maintaining and upgrading social bonds amongst all users and parties and providing a client-centric environment, achieving mitigation or clearing up misunderstandings or operational defaults.
Due to the cloud ecosystem, Elvictor can make adjustments while systems are up and running, without interrupting any users; there are specific roles assignment per user and per party, that allows an integral management efficiency of the complicated tasks that may arise. The team leader stands as the Crew Manager of Elvictor for the team. Every Crew Manager has different groups allocated depending on the nationality mix and services rendered to each client.
All users of Elvictor, especially all the staff scattered in various countries, have cloud access with encrypted connection and have been provided with a workstation for their home office.
The digitalization arsenal of the Elvictor cloud ecosystem allows effective management for compliance and implementation of the daily tasks across various countries, numerous recruitments, and demanding last-minute operations that may arise due to the nature of the human factor.
Elvictor has established a unique digital, agile management. The pandemic has helped to invent it, possessing imminent information and updates, segmented in a way for the top management officers to be in line, informed, and proactively prepared.
This digital agile management concept important role plays relevance to the company’s vision and mission and the customer-centric focus. Emails and old-fashioned communication channels are replaced with digital cloud tools, dashboards, and notification panels, allowing less electronic bureaucracy and achieving drastic imminent and point communication and identifying open items and tasks.
We, as Elvictor, believe in the complete digitalization of the overall recruitment process. Still, we aim with the tools we have developed to keep personal contact and balance face-to-face and remote work.
We must not forget that we are humans, and technology is here to assist us and not replace us.