29th April 2020
Life goes on despite lockdown
GTMaritime are a very lucky company in many ways. About a year before the Covid-19 pandemic started we changed all the desktops in the company for laptops. Before that we had already moved our service into the cloud along with our back-office systems. So, unbeknown to us, we were very well prepared for social distancing. We already have several staff members that work from home, so the concept is nothing new to us. Very quickly we were able to switch from office to home working for all staff, in fact we actually switched to home working a week before lockdown as we felt the legislation should have been introduced much earlier.
Where GTMaritime are really lucky is that we have a great team that are very committed. We had no qualms about the decision to switch from office to home working. Having worked with them for so many years, we knew they were independent, dedicated and that they could work successfully in their home environment, and after 5 or 6 weeks of lockdown they have proved us right.
The business is working well, we have no issues from customers or suppliers, everyone is at the end of the phone when we call, doing their normal job whilst working around their homelife. I know it is not easy as children need to be fed, educated and entertained throughout the day, so our staff have worked out their own daily routines to suit their work / life requirements.
We are blessed with great, committed people and I am so proud of them. I want to thank them all for making these adjustments and coping in this unusual situation and terrible time.
Here’s a brief insight into how two of our team have adapted to the current working environment.
Lee Penketh, Systems Engineer
Well, I am lucky enough to have a log cabin at the end of the garden where I can go and work as I would in the office. I am able to fulfil the same duties as I normally would thanks to all our services operating in the cloud. I speak throughout the day to colleagues via Microsoft teams. The family are home schooling in the house, mum has schoolwork prepped each day for the two children to get on with and the oldest daughter is connected to school also with Microsoft teams, speaking with her teachers and class mates. We all have breaks throughout the day to stretch our legs and say “Hello”, perhaps play with the dog in the garden as the weather is so nice. When it comes to any third-party conference calls we have a red poster which I place in my cabin window, so the family know not to disturb me. It’s to avoid any unexpected videobombing or awkward moments of them coming on my call asking for a snack or a biscuit!!
When not working we have been getting those long overdue DIY jobs done with the kids helping and then just playing family games with the kids favourite of “find three things” whereby my wife and I describe to them three objects and it’s a race for the first child to bring all three correct objects to us, score being kept on a score board the kids made, the winner is in for a big prize at the end of the lockdown but as they are both doing great they will both get a prize, its more about keeping them entertained. We don’t tell them when we are going to ask for the three things, we tend to spring it on them with a whistle so they have to stop and come wherever they are to join in. It’s been really funny some of the objects we have had brought to us when playing. One object description was to find something white and fluffy, then expecting something like a pillow but was presented with the dog looking at us, as if saying: “what the hell is going on?” Needless to say when the dog hears the whistle now, he hides for fear of two kids charging towards him wanting to use him as an offering.
We are keeping in contact with family and friends via video calls, each Sunday afternoon we have a whole family video call with Aunties, Cousins, Grandparents and Great Grandparents, all catching up, finding out what everyone has been up to.
Also, our Finance Manager, Sam McDermott, pictured here in her home office has this to say:
As we are both working from home plus trying to do school work with Oliver and Grace we have had to install some extra desks! We always had the desk I’m working at but then we set up a desk in Oliver’s room for Paul to work at. However, once the school closed, we removed the bed in the spare room and put up a new desk for Paul, so there has definitely been some changes in our house since mid-March. I’m glad we were able to do this though as it has kept our dining table free so that we can all have a change of scenery at mealtimes and feel like we are actually having a break.
My daily routine is to exercise between 6:15 and 6:45am as I cannot find time anywhere else in the day, then a few household chores before I start work at 7am. I work until 8:30 when I do breakfast and start some schoolwork with Oliver until 10am. I then work until around 5pm, making sure we all stop for lunch as a family and, fortunately, we have been able to do this in the garden lately which has been lovely. While we have been forced to stay at home, we have worked on our garden at weekends so are making the most of being in it while we can.
Oliver will usually continue with some schoolwork during the morning, so I try to be on-hand to help, although this is very difficult while I’m trying to work but we do what we can. Paul’s job involves him being on lots of conference calls throughout the day which means he isn’t able to be on-hand in the same way, but when he doesn’t have these scheduled he will take over.
Oliver will then usually play all afternoon, mainly outside while it has been so nice, which allows me to work with fewer distractions in the afternoon.
At 5pm we usually take the kids out for a 5k ride on their bikes, and Paul and I will either run or walk with them, before we all come home for dinner and the usual evening routine.
For the first few weeks, I was logging back on in an evening due to the amount of distractions throughout the day, however we have tried to adapt and change routines between us to avoid this, as it felt as though at night I was going straight from my desk to bed, and then from my bed to my desk again in a morning which soon became very exhausting.
It’s not ideal, but it’s working. It’s very stressful, but we are all safe and well!
These are just two examples of how our team are adapting to working from home, thank you again to all of them for their efforts during this time and I look forward to the day when we can all be back in the office, working together in the new normal, whatever form that takes.
Stay safe everyone.