Keeping trade moving from the kitchen table

Keeping trade moving from the kitchen table

In March 2020, a virus put the world on hold. Overnight office doors closed, dispersing people to the safety of their homes. Like millions of others, we became part of a new work-from-home community and what we initially thought would be a matter of weeks stretched into months. Instability and uncertainty rose, but we were determined to maintain a stable flow of trade; the world needed it now, more than ever.

As a company, we dug deep into our collective strengths, using decades of experience and resilience to confidently navigate the new challenges ahead. It became clear that a reliable supply chain would be more critical than ever for moving medicines, food and resources. To maintain business continuity, we tackled COVID-19 related issues head-on with a response committee. The committee oversaw both global and local pandemic issues and helped us quickly settle into productive home working.

Our HR and IT teams built a network of resources and kept valuable training programmes active to make sure we would stay happy and connected. Guidelines, advice and equipment were distributed for healthy home working, along with constant IT support. Staying connected was easy thanks to video conferencing, bridging the distance between countries without the need for travel. Safety shifted from typical office hazards to COVID-19 advice and online home security, keeping both people and data protected from infection.

Where we would previously gather in a meeting room, our HR teams instead hosted regular online business updates. Online surveys and Q&A sessions ensured everyone was heard and work from home policies were refreshed to accommodate the ‘new normal’. While work was given the utmost importance, our HR teams prioritised wellbeing with local virtual fitness and wellness sessions. Many of these involved doctors who helped allay virus and vaccination concerns among our workforce.

The safety and wellbeing of our people has to be at the centre of everything we did, especially in 2020. Only with a safe working environment could our staff take on the monumental task of keeping our ports and trade network running 24/7 during such an unpredictable year. Now, as we look back on the shift to homeworking, we are proud that we were able to keep serving our customer, clients and achieving our goals. We kept vital goods and resources flowing smoothly and even found benefits to our new situation. Productivity and motivation stayed high; in fact, we were unified in our mission to keep trade moving. Despite the challenging year, we found many positives in our new situation. We can build a better future from anywhere, even the kitchen table.

This story is just one of the ways we connected people, markets and nations. Find out more in the annual Smarter Trade report
View here