Jonas Sandell is a ship’s master with Transatlantic. He is now working for the second time as cargo planner at the shipping company. Having worked onboard and ashore makes communicating easier, he says.
“It is much easier to contact the office when you know the people that work there.
The distance between the shipping office and the ships is an extra challenge when it comes to cooperation and communication. Solving tasks at a distance with someone you barely know is often much more difficult than talking to your colleague in the room next door, especially when you are working in different environments and under different conditions. One way of making the dialogue easier and reducing the risk of “them-and-us” thinking is job swapping.” That is the opinion of the ship’s master, Jonas Sandell, who has been working with cargo planning at Transatlantic in Gothenburg since August. This is the second time he is serving ashore and he sees it as a big advantage to have insight into both sides of shipping operations.
“Before I sometimes wondered what everyone really did there and who they were, but now I understand how they work,” he says.
Jonas has become something of a bridge-builder between the ships and the shipping office. When he came onboard after the last period ashore, his colleagues had a lot of questions.
“People are interested and want to know about it. Onboard you only see what is happening on your own ship, but from ashore you get a wider perspective of all the ships and lines and how they work together.”
Passing on information
He also has the opportunity of passing on information about conditions onboard to those at the office.
“They don’t always understand why they don’t get a reply straight away when they send an e-mail to a ship. But there is often a lot to do onboard, especially when we are moored, and we don’t always have time to reply immediately. Then we do our watches as well, and maybe we are asleep when they contact us.”
As a cargo planner, Jonas calls the ships now and then without having any particular reason. From personal experience, he knows how important it is to feel support from the office ashore.
“It is appreciated when the shipping company gets in touch and asks how things are going. Then it feels like they are interested in what we are doing and they care about us. You mustn’t forget the social side of things – it is important.”
During the 30 years he has worked at sea, communication options have evolved a lot. Above all, there was a great difference when e-mail arrived, he says.
E-mail has definitely made it easier to stay connected. At the same time, a lot more information is sent to the ships and the amount of administration has increased. In other words, both good and bad has come of it.
But there are more ways than job swapping that can facilitate communication between land and ships. Joint conferences and social events are also good for making contacts, says Jonas. “We have had a few Christmas parties together, but it has been rather sporadic. The last time the crews were invited to the shipping company was when we opened our new premises in Gothenburg in December last year. Of course, not everyone can come to these events – some live far away and others have to work, but I think it is really important for cooperation to get to know each other outside work.” Jonas has been at sea since he was 17, most recently as the master on Transpulp. Although he enjoys working in the office, he wants to get back to sea when the current job ends in just over six months.
“It has advantages, working in the office, but you are never free during the week. It does not leave much time to organise all the practical things, the car and so on.”