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How Hybrid You Are: The Challenges and Advantages of Hybrid Work in Shipping

Before I begin comparing hybrid and office work, my initial idea was to write about the decrease in the customer service levels of our suppliers, especially the experiences we have had as a team in the last year. While there could be multiple reasons for this decline, I noticed that my focus was on hybrid working models. Especially in the post-Covid era, many articles have been written comparing hybrid, remote, and office work models, discussing their advantages and disadvantages. What prompted me to reconsider this topic was the changing work environments, particularly as a significant factor in the drop in service quality in the shipping and logistics industry.

The Advantages of Hybrid Working in the Shipping Industry

Flexibility, employee satisfaction and motivation, cost savings for employers, preparedness for pandemics and emergencies, reaching a larger workforce, increased productivity and performance are among the advantages of hybrid or remote working models for shippers. However, what I want to focus on here is how these seemingly advantageous features can turn into disadvantages in the long run.

During the pandemic, when most shipping offices were closed, and we had to work from home collectively, it initially seemed like a great relief to be able to work from home. However, as time passed, the mandatory stay-at-home situation, the inability to socialize with colleagues, the stress of work at home, and the inability to get away from it began to create problems, as I observed and experienced. The first noticeable issue was the decrease in work efficiency in our industry.

Challenges with Hybrid Working in the Shipping Industry

Companies still using this model face challenges, especially those in the shipping customer service sector. Unfortunately, not every employee adheres to remote working discipline. Issues such as unanswered phones, phone conversations that are inaudible due to background traffic noise, phones being hung up, and questions being evaded, with the workload of the undisciplined part falling on the responsible and hardworking part. What remains is a group of people trying to carry out the work and service recipients with unresolved problems or problems resolved late.

The training of remotely working individuals is inadequate; they cannot engage in instant idea exchange due to the lack of real-time contact with each other, and they fulfill their working hours mechanically, lacking the expected empathy. Shipping and logistics teams without social bonds and unable to form friendships have success levels and team performances that fall below expectations. Monitoring and evaluating the performance of remote workers is not as effective as in office settings, making it difficult for managers to accurately assess their contributions.

Another aspect to consider is security risks.

Remote workers need to be extra cautious about securely protecting company information. The devices and networks used at home make company information more vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is especially true for shipping since the industry has been experiencing negative attention and attacks in the Red Sea.

One of the most common issues encountered is technology problems.

Technical issues such as internet connection problems and software incompatibilities frequently arise in remote work, disrupting business processes and reducing efficiency. When containers are being tracked globally, this technology needs to work from anywhere and office Internet connectivity is more potent.

For the statements claiming that this method, which many large, multi-unit companies resort to for cost reduction, will increase employee motivation to be proven true, companies need to understand these challenges and develop appropriate solutions. Whether this will be successful or not will become clearer in the coming years.

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